Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Should We Worry about Family Change?

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Should We Worry about Family Change?

Article excerpt

LEWIS, Jane, SHOULD WE WORRY ABOUT FAMELY CHANGE? Toronto, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2003, 232pp., $40.00 hardcover.

The book by Jane Lewis is based on lectures within the Joanne Goodman Lectures Series at the University of Western Ontario in 2001. It deals with the decline of the breadwinner model in a historical, sociological perspective.

Her starting point is the composition of the typical American family as the male breadwinner two parent family, mainly the vision in the fifties and beginning sixties of the 20ieth century.

Obviously this changed in the western world. The author introduces statistics to support the argument of change. The decline of the fertility rate, decline in teenage births since 1970 (though less in Britain and the USA than in other parts of the western world), the rising amount of lone parents, divorce and marriage rates, couples in consensual union are among the indicators which show structural as well as behavioural change within the family.

Female employment is one of the most important changes. Starting form the male as breadwinner and the female as carer the family has moved to a dual career couple where both, men and women, are full time earner. Though this is not realized with all couples the tendency is towards it. The author is aware of the fact that there are differences in the countries and we have to be aware of the complexity of the phenomenon.

The main arguments playing a role, in the debate of family change are discussed further on. The central issue is individualization, seen as a cause of family change. The author shows the divergent results on this issue. The role of fathers is another point coming into the discussion in the eighties, their duties and their contribution and obligations to the family got more central, to the debate since then. Female employment, often a matter of not only structural but cultural differences in societies and cohabitation are other central issues discussed. …

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