An experienced teacher of courses on the sociology of the family, D.H.J. Morgan frequently encounters a gulf between ‘the family’ as it is often treated in sociological texts and ‘the family’ as it is usually experienced. In this book he provides an extremely valuable bridge between the two by presenting an encounter between some of the mainstream theoretical approaches and concerns in the sociology of the family and what he terms as ‘critical’ perspectives on the family.
This is the first British book on a basic social institution that takes into account the literature outside the mainstream of sociological analysis that deals with the subject. The first half examines the varieties of functional theorizing embedded in many texts, the over-concern with the question of kinship in modern society and the treatment of the family as a ‘success story’. In the second half Dr Morgan presents a critical account of some of the counter-theories: those derived from the radical feminist movement, the existential psycho-analytical approach associated with Laing, and the critical analyses of sex in an advanced capitalist society. A final chapter suggests some themes and orientations, derived from this encounter of theoretical approaches and modern perspectives, which can be usefully developed.