Originally published in 1983, the origin of this book is to be found in C. C. Harris’s ‘Changing conceptions of the relation between family and societal form’ (in Scase: Industrial Society: Class, Cleavage and Control). In that article Harris attempted to relate traditional research on the family to recent developments in historical enquiry and Marxist scholarship. The aim of The Family and Industrial Society is to explain the character of the contemporary family by placing it in a wider historical and theoretical perspective. It is therefore directed at the undergraduate student for whom the ‘sociology of the family’, as a topic, has for too long been relatively unrelated to those contemporary developments in sociological thought and practice which inform other substantive areas of sociological work.
The late C.C. Harris is perhaps best known for his best-selling introductory text The Family: An Introduction, first published in 1969. This new text was not, however, a straightforward replacement of an earlier book by a more up-to-date volume. Far too much had happened in sociology, in social studies and in family life itself, for a simple updating to make any sense. The Family was primarily a descriptive introduction, and was a presentation, albeit critical, of an orthodoxy. While this new book retains an introductory element based upon The Family’s earlier chapters, the greater part of it is exploratory and assumes a higher level of sophistication and sociological understanding; it is also substantially longer.
Dr Harris was singularly well qualified to write a volume of this kind. Not only had he conducted and was conducting empirical research into the family, but his wide theoretical interests rendered him uniquely well placed to contribute to the theoretical development of his field. Few sociologists shared his familiarity with both anthropological and historical work. He was thoroughly familiar with the now unfashionable structural functional approach of which he had always been critical, but was enthusiastic about the potentialities of contemporary developments. The result is a sophisticated text which combines instruction, criticism, interpretation and exploration in one volume; which familiarises the student with the fundamental work of the past (too often neglected) and explores exciting new developments for the future. It also includes the only general discussion of change in the British family since the last edition of Fletcher’s The Family and Marriage in Britain.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements. Introduction. Part 1: Introductory. Section I: Basics 1. Kinship 2. Marriage 3. Family Section II: The Family and Industrial Society – the Functionalist Approach 4. The ‘Fit’ between Family and Society 5. The Family and Individual Mobility Part 2: Exploratory. Section I: Historical Understandings 6. The English Family before Industrialisation 7. Family and Industrialisation 8. The Character of English Family Life before Industrialisation 9. Distinguishing Family Types in Capitalist-Industrial Society Section II: Marxist Perspectives 10. The Household and Family under Capitalism Section III: The Family in Contemporary Britain 11. Official Statistics and the Decline of the Family 12. The Sociology of the Elementary Family. Bibliography. Name Index. Subject Index.
C. C. Harris