The Family and Social Change: A Study of Family and Kinship in a South Wales Town

The Family and Social Change: A Study of Family and Kinship in a South Wales Town

The Family and Social Change: A Study of Family and Kinship in a South Wales Town

The Family and Social Change: A Study of Family and Kinship in a South Wales Town

Excerpt

In 1957 the Institute of Community Studies published their first findings about kinship and family in east London; these challenged accepted views about the family in urban society: they disturbed current sociological cliches and they questioned basic assumptions in contemporary social policy. Michael Young and his colleagues generalized no wider than their evidence and this, for the most part, came from Bethnal Green, one square mile of east London, somewhat special in character and in recent history. No wonder that many asked: this may be true of Bethnal Green, but is it true, for instance, of Rotherham or West Kensington?

There was obvious need for a study, parallel to the ones in Bethnal Green, in a different part of the country. After reviewing other possibilities, Swansea seemed both convenient and almost dauntingly different. Bethnal Green is remarkably homogeneous in social composition; Swansea is not. The population of Bethnal Green is small and compact; the population of Swansea is three time larger and occupies an area thirty times as great. The districts differ widely in occupation, history, tradition, topography, climate and to some extent in language.

The idea of a comparative study was first discussed with Mr. Lewis Waddilove, Director of the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust, who fostered the proposal; Sir John Fulton, then Principal of the University College of Swansea, was also encouraging. In consequence, and with characteristically liberal support from the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust, the study started in 1959 when two fortunate research appointments were made, Dr. Colin Rosser, a social anthropologist, South Welsh in origin but Nepalese and Indian in his professional speciality, and Mr. Chris Harris, a sociologist with particular interest in social conditions and the social services in Britain. As they acknowledge, these researchers have had ready help from a host of people and institutions and particularly from the citizens of Swansea who met them more than half-way.

The results of some four years’ work are presented in this volume, much of which is written with racy directness, recording a multitude of revealing incidents and phrases as well as conclusions that are thoughtful, bracing and sometimes startling. Those who know ‘this . . .

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