New PDF release: Children in Changing Families: A Study of Adoption and

By Lydia Lambert

ISBN-10: 0333286979

ISBN-13: 9780333286975

ISBN-10: 1349163775

ISBN-13: 9781349163779

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Extra resources for Children in Changing Families: A Study of Adoption and Illegitimacy

Example text

According to Davis (1939), 'people are not supposed to have illegitimate children, but when they do an emergency is set into operation to give the child a status, though an inferior one, and to define the position of the parents. In this way society continues'. It is this response, and the ascription to the child of an inferior status, which creates problems for the mother and child. From this flow various disabilities, legal and social, as reflected in the history ofthe poor law (see Pinchbeck, 1954; Middleton, 1971) and in twentieth-century income-maintenance schemes (George, 1974).

The Finer Report (OHSS, 1974) has suggested that it is 'unhistorical and socially unrealistic' to interpret marriage breakdown 'merely or exclusively as a concern of social pathology'. Ouring the late 1950s and the early 1960s, for example, a debate raged about the state of health of the modern family. On one side were the moral pessimists, who decried what they considered to be the decline ofthe family, and on the other side sociologists, such as Fletcher (1962), who argued strongly against the prevailing gloom and accusations of moral degeneration.

Vincent (1961) has shown that illicit sexual relations seldom result in censure or sanctions, unless they break taboos such as incest or extreme youth. But if a girl becomes pregnant as a result of extramarital sexual activity, the reaction of others is likely to be severe, at least on mothers if not on fathers, even in this socalled permissive age. Where illegitimate births occur, the unwed mother may be regarded as having broken the rules and, by some, as being a social problem. It is important to recognise that 'anomalous' families, such as those where there is a lone parent or a step-parent, or where the children are illegitimate, are not in themselves a problem.

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Children in Changing Families: A Study of Adoption and Illegitimacy by Lydia Lambert


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