Marriage, Domestic Life, and Social Change: Writings for Jacqueline Burgoyne, 1944-88

Marriage, Domestic Life, and Social Change: Writings for Jacqueline Burgoyne, 1944-88

Marriage, Domestic Life, and Social Change: Writings for Jacqueline Burgoyne, 1944-88

Marriage, Domestic Life, and Social Change: Writings for Jacqueline Burgoyne, 1944-88

Synopsis

Marriage, Domestic Life and Social Change brings together leading writers on marriage and the family in a tribute to the life and work of Jacqueline Burgoyne, a major figure in family studies.

Excerpt

In this first part of the book the contributors take as their theme some of the changing aspects of marriage and domestic life in Britain since the end of the Second World War. Their intention, however, is not to produce a detailed family history of the period. the authors have been selective and in so doing have produced an original set of arguments which largely revolve around the predominant characteristics of marriage in the post-war period. At the centre of these chapters are the debates about companionate marriage, notions of marriage as partnership and the extent to which there is any evidence over time of greater equality between men and women in marriage. These are explored on a number of dimensions, ranging from the prescriptions of social policy to the more private territories of sexual and intimate relationships. in all cases, however, the authors place a strong emphasis on understanding both the public and the private dimensions of marriage and domestic life and in particular the interactions between them.

Janet Finch and Penny Summerfield offer a critical exploration of the relationship between ideas about companionate marriage and the processes of post-war social and economic reconstruction, showing how a combination of factors served to place new pressures on women. They describe the interconnections between anxieties about the falling birth rate and the call for mothers to renounce full-time paid employment and remain inside the home as carers of children, making this their unique contribution to the marital 'team'. At the same time these 'thoroughly maternal wives' were also expected to contribute to an enthusiastic and fulfilling sexual life within marriage. Sociologists of the period add some detail to this picture, though studies of marriage in the 1950s generally reveal a rather optimistic and cosy picture of domestic harmony. Nevertheless, there were some counterpoints to this, in public anxieties about rebellious youth and juvenile crime, which were attributed in part to a breakdown in family life. These anxieties were crystallised in a Royal Commission which took the view that couples were taking marriage 'less seriously' than before. Only those

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