The Making and Breaking of the Australian Family  book cover
1st Edition

The Making and Breaking of the Australian Family

ISBN 9780044423485
Published July 19, 1991 by Routledge
182 Pages

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Book Description

Once everyone knew what the family was. It was something natural and without a history - mum, dad and the kids.

Divorce, women in the workforce, de facto relationships and the sexual liberation movements have fractured the old certainties. Nowadays there is more talk about the family than ever, even if no-one is quite sure what it is anymore.

The making and breaking of the Australian family looks at the family in history. It traces the shift from the household economy of the late nineteenth century, to the child-centred nuclear family of the mid-twentieth century, to the recent proliferation of households. The book argues that the so-called traditional family was a quite recent creation, and that its fragmentation is obscured by new redefinitions of the family.

The making and breaking of the Australian family addresses the changing experiences of childhood, parenting, home, neighbourhood, work, birth and sexuality. It examines the expansion of the market and the state, patterns of class mobilisation, the reconstruction of masculinity and femininity and the creative strategies of ordinary people in everyday life.

This is a lively and accessible book, which will prove a valuable reference for students of history, sociology, women's studies and Australian studies, and will generate wide discussion amongst people concerned with family policy, welfare and contemporary social issues.

Table of Contents



1 Writing a history of the family

2 The making of childhood

3 The making of the nuclear family

4 The making of the housewife

5 The making of the small family

6 The remaking of motherhood

7 The making of the homosexual

8 The making and breaking of the Australian family


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Michael Gilding has a degree in history and a PhD in sociology. He is currently a Lecturer in Sociology at Swinburne Institute of Technology in Victoria.