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The Family, Sex and Marriage in England,…
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The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 (1977)

by Lawrence Stone

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During the period 1500-1800, there were massive changes in world social and cultural systems, and the family unit as we recognize it today came into being. The emphasis on the individual, the right to personal freedoms and the desire for privacy developed during this period and were symptomatic of world wide shifts in attitude that also affected religion and politics. This text is a study of the evolution of the family, from the impersonal, economically-bonded and precarious extended family-group of the 16th century to the smaller, affectively-bonded nuclear unit that had appeared by the end of the 18th century, and shows how this process radically influenced child rearing, education contraception, sexual behaviour and marriage.
  antimuzak | Nov 24, 2005 |
The most critical change in world view and values ""possibly in the last thousand years of Western history"" is the shift from ""distance, deference and patriarchy"" to what Stone (best known for work in early modern English history) calls ""Affective Individualism."" In this massive, aptly illustrated book, he explains and analyzes the change, taking as example the development of the modern family. The 16th-century ""Open Lineage Family""--a cool economic and political calculation for the good of kin, community, and the male line--is replaced by the ""Restricted Patriarchal Nuclear Family"" (1550-1700), under pressure of an authoritarian state, patriarchal protestant theology, and Reformation upheaval to become a sterner agent of social control. In ""the great age of the whip"" children are ""broken"" for the good of their souls, wives for the pleasure of their husbands. Counter-trends toward greater freedom and equality (the recognition that coercion has limits) yield the ""Closed Domesticated Nuclear Family"" (1640-1800), increasingly egalitarian and affectionate, increasingly withdrawn from interests of kin and community. Husband, wife, and kids like one another better and the world less...[click on Kirkus Reviews for the rest of the review]
 
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During the period 1500 - 1800 there were massive changes in world social and cultural systems, and the family unit as we recognize it today came into being. The emphasis on the individual, the right to personal freeedoms and the desire for privacy developed during this period and were symptomatic of world-wide shifts in attitude that also affected religion and politics. This learned and highly informative book is a study of the evolution of the family, from the (to us) impersonal, economically bonded and precarious extended family group of the sixteenth century to the smaller, affectively bonded nuclear unit that had appeared by the end of the eighteenth century, and shows how this process radically influenced child-rearing, education, contraception, sexual behaviour and marriage.… (more)

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