THE FAMILY: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow by Elaine & Walter Goodman

THE FAMILY: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

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The Goodmans begin (after quoting without comment a sexist Sanskrit myth) with a disclaimer -- ""this is not meant as a defense of the so-called nuclear family,"" and indeed most of their book consists of the sort of introductory survey most suited to traditional classroom use. Descriptions of the family and kinship arrangements of primitive, Ancient Roman, feudal and industrial societies are dotted with italicized, defined-in-situ words like consanguineous, patrilineal and polygyny. (""Matrilocal, remember, means the location of the mother."") However the authors don't attempt to hide their bias and their whole review of experiments in the USSR and Israel is pointed to the power of ""elemental human desire"" to Win out over hostile social and political demands. The Goodmans blandly conclude that most people today find the nuclear family with one breadwinner and a wife at home most suited to their needs -- this despite the fact (not mentioned here) that approximately half of all mothers of school-age children, and a far higher proportion of married women without children, now work outside the home. Furthermore, their warnings that the upper middle class women now pushing for careers may be in for disappointment completely ignores the need of more and more working class women to earn money. Instead of any analysis of trends, recapitulation of challenging theories or even presentation of census statistics, we end up with only the Goodmans' complacent assurances; about all that we can say for their introduction is that it lacks the silly, vacuous platitudes of Gay's A Family Is for Living (KR, 1971), which might be the only competition at this level.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1975
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux