Understanding the Family
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Understanding the Family

Second Edition



© 1999 | 336 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
`Provide[s] a good overview of current family theory and research.... well written and worth having' - British Journal of Medical Psychology

`Altogether an excellent collection for students of social policy, social care or social work, covering as it does both subjective and objective features of family life and the logics of inequality within which they are embedded' - Child and Family Social Work

This revised and updated introductory text presents an accessible, interdisciplinary account of how 'the family' is constituted in the 'public' and 'private' spheres.

Drawing in a wide range of theoretical perspectives from sociology, social policy, psychology and psychoanalysis, this book critically examines assumptions about 'the family' that are embedded in social policy, law and political discourse. The text outlines the tensions that exist between such assumptions and the lived realities and everyday experiences of family life. Understanding the Family shows how dominant understanding of the family have failed to recognize a marked diversity of family forms in contemporary society, and also ignore the complex and myriad ways in which family life comes to be experienced.

Introduction
Public Definitions and Private Lives  
PART ONE: POLITICS, POLICY AND THE LAW
John Muncie and Roger Sapsford
Issues in the Study of `The Family'
John Muncie and Margaret Wetherell
Family Policy and Political Discourse
Hilary Land
Families and the Law
Rudi Dallos and Roger Sapsford
Patterns of Diversity and Lived Realities
PART TWO: INTERACTIONS AND IDENTITIES
Rudi Dallos
Constructing Family Life
Family Belief Systems  
Margaret Wetherell
Social Structure, Ideology and Family Dynamics
The Case of Parenting  
Margaret Wetherell
The Psychoanalytic Approach to Family Life
Lynne Segal
A Feminist Looks at the Family
Roger Sapsford
Endnote
Public and Private  

REVIEWS OF THE FIRST EDITION

`Provide[s] a good overview of current family theory and research.... well written and worth having' - British Journal of Medical Psychology

`Altogether an excellent collection for students of social policy, social care or social work, covering as it does both subjective and objective features of family life and the logics of inequality within which they are embedded' - Child and Family Social Work

`The book provides an overview of major belief systems about the family, which are intelligently summarized, often with the use of thoughtfully selected excerpts from major source material. The final endnote, by Roger Sapsford, is particularly insightful as he identifies the problems that arise from trying to confine the family within the private sphere and neatly separating the private from the public aspects of family. Overall, this book is a constructive and comprehensive guide to understanding the family' - Population and Development Review


Great as a text for the critical examination of decision making and problem solving in family services. Particularly like the psychoanalytic and feminist approaches.

Ms Tapo Chimbganda
Children, Young People and Families, Leeds Trinity University
January 21, 2015

A useful supplemental reading for undergruadate students. I would use this text to initiate student discussions.

Dr Yoko Kanemasu
Institute of Health and Society, Worcester University
November 12, 2009

For instructors

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ISBN: 9780761953074
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