From Partners to Parents: The Second Revolution in Family Law

From Partners to Parents: The Second Revolution in Family Law

From Partners to Parents: The Second Revolution in Family Law

From Partners to Parents: The Second Revolution in Family Law

Synopsis

Examining the substantial changes that have occurred in families, family research, and family law over the last twenty years, this volume describes a paradigm shift in the legal and social regulation of the family from an emphasis on partners' relationships with each other to an emphasis on parents' relationships to their children. In this model, custody has replaced fault as the most important determination made at divorce, and marital status is supplanted by financial and emotional maturity as the indicia of responsible parenthood. The most significant remaining challenge, according to June Carbone, is the need to remake the relationship between adults in such a way that it makes fulfillment of their obligations to children possible. Carbone's broadly interdisciplinary approach, drawing on economics, law, philosophy, and feminism -- as well as references to popular culture, from Doonesbury to Grace Under Fire -- serves as an intellectual survey of family research and of the major theoretical approaches to the family. She evaluates historical, sociological, and psychological research to show how family change is part of a long-term response to changing industrial organization, and to assess the impact of changing family form on children.

Excerpt

If Stone is circumspect in comparison with Engels, the historians who follow Stone are more cautious still. Engels engendered controversy by staking out a bold thesis and defending it; the controversial aspects of Stone's work come more from his asides and omissions than his organizing principles. the historians of the last two decades have strived to avoid incautious speculation altogether. Their controversies, laments a recent president of the American Historical Association, are technical ones. the history of the African-American family stands in stark contras. There are few aspects of its history, historiography, or sociology that are not fraught with controversy, and one of the fault lines in those controversies is the issue that divided Stone and Engels: the importance of class.

Study of the African-American family dates back to Engels' time, and the scholarly work that endures is that of the first African-American sociologists. the early scholars of color struggled, and to a remarkable degree succeeded, in wresting the field from the racist sociology of their day. While Engels' references to “savagery” and “barbarism” and Stone's description of the lowest English social classes as “a bastardy-prone minority group” today provoke wry amusement that dates — or discredits — their work, the comparable American references to the “primitive social organization” or natural “licentiousness” of the African race continue to wound. Within this context of racial and scholarly essentialism, the family studies of W. E. B. Du Bois, the preeminent African-American intellectual of his era, and E. Franklin Frazier, one of the most important family sociologists of the first half of the twentieth century, stand as powerful antidotes.

Du Bois wrote The Negro American Family to counter white turn-ofthe-century scholarship that associated African-American family patterns . . .

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