THE FAMILY by Alice S.; Jerome Kagan & Tamara K. Hareven--Eds. Rossi


Email this review


These twelve weighty articles attempt to refute two popular beliefs: that the modern family is inflexible and dying and that social science studies of it have been objective--and they do make headway. The volume demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary and crosscultural studies in illuminating the complexity of the subject, and its deficiencies are few: a somewhat limited acknowledgment of economic aspects in several viewpoints and the absence of a biological perspective altogether. But the articles are strongly grounded in the writers' own disciplines--anthropology, psychology, history, sociology--and their observations are stimulating. Editor Rossi and Jerome Kagan begin the discussion with primary considerations, she from the mother's position, he from the child's. Natalie Zemon Davis adds solid and original thoughts derived from ""Some Features of Family Life in Early Modern France."" In an excellent round-up of current childcare arguments, Suzanne Woolsey suggests that what little research evidence exists has been systematically ignored in the formation of federal policies and, often, by articulate spokesmen--a conclusion also reached by Selma Fraiberg (In Defense of Mothering) and Kenneth Keniston (All Our Children). Colin Blaydon and Carol Stack trace the political tinkering that has characterized income support policies, and two articles examine contemporary trends elsewhere: the decline of paternal authority in post-WW II Japan (Hiroshi Wagatsuma), and the move toward a nuclear family in modern Kenya (Beatrice Whiting). Each ably investigates its central issue, and most squeeze in a few intriguing incidentals--Whiting notes in passing the resemblance between Kenyan marriage set-ups and those of Old Testament families. Also, pieces from Tamara Hareven, Isabel Sawhill, Anthony Downs, and the always persuasive Philippe Aries. A bold, invigorating collection, initially written for the Spring 1977 issue of Daedalus.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1978
ISBN: 0393090647
Publisher: Norton