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Reconceptualizing Family History (Part II)

Stephanie Coontz20 April 2017

Reconceptualizing Family History (Part II)

Continued from part I.

Detail from Francis William Edmonds' The New Bonnet (1858).

The Limits of Structural and Demographic Analysis

Although it is important to compare demographic trends and household structures and seek their economic correlates, such procedures yield only limited information about the history of families. Olga Linares points out: “Qualitative changes in the meaning of interpersonal obligations may be as important in distinguishing among household types as more easily measured changes in size and form.” Indeed, as Barrington Moore Jr has commented, tabulating structural differences “necessarily involves ignoring all differences except the one being measured.” Changes in social relations and patterns are not “reducible to any quantitative differences; they are incommensurable. Yet it is precisely such differences that matter most to human beings.”47

Similar forms, for example, can encompass very different interpersonal and social relationships. As Hans Medick notes, a woman may have lived with her grandchildren in some nineteenth-century proletarian houses as well as in rural peasant ones, but it made a considerable difference whether this was the home of her own married life, inherited by her children, or the home that her son or daughter had set up upon marriage and to which she moved after her husband's death left her destitute: “The ‘extended family’ of the proletariat primarily functioned as a private institution to redistribute the poverty of the nuclear family by way of the kinship system. The extended family of the peasant, on the other hand, served as an instrument for the conservation of property” and as a social institution for the care of the elderly. Similarly, modern marriage and divorce practices may remind one of the easily dissolved pairing units of band-level societies, but they play a different social role and have different personal consequences. For one thing, the immediate result of divorce in contemporary America, where a divorced woman experiences a 74 per cent drop in her income while a man's income goes up by 49 per cent, has no analogue in band-level Society, where a man generally needs a wife more than a woman needs a husband.48

Changes in Family Relationships in English History: The Heritage of Colonial Families

The reduction of family history to those aspects of family life that can be counted and made commensurable, then, gives us a woefully incomplete picture of our past. Reconstructing the past emotional life of the family is essential; it is also an exceptionally tricky enterprise. Many authors, for example, have argued that seventeenth-century families in England and America were characterized by instrumental rather than affective bonds and that the history of the family since has been one of growing affection, intimacy, and egalitarianism. Possibly the strongest statement of this view has been made by Edward Shorter, who attributes the liberation of family life to lower-class rebellion against repressive sexual and sentimental mores during the Industrial Revolution. This rebellion spread throughout the classes, transforming traditional courtship into romantic love and creating steady improvement in the treatment of children. Unfortunately, Shorter's evidence for sexual liberation — new employment for working-class women and a rising illegitimacy rate — can better be read as the breakdown of some traditional securities, while most historians place the “discovery of childhood” in the middle or upper classes and find that its results were mixed, leading initially to an increase in severity and proceeding to more permissive attitudes that were reversed in the nineteenth century.

A more sophisticated discussion of the evolution of family emotions is provided by Lawrence Stone, who is well aware of class variations in the experience of family and takes note of exceptions or reverses in the trends he proposes. Yet Stone's uncritical use of upper-class sources and his assumptions about the psychological necessity for a particular kind of family life lead him to paint an overly harsh picture of preindustrial personal relations. Family relations before the mid seventeenth century, Stone suggests, “contributed to a ‘psychic numbing’ which created many adults whose primary responses to others were at best a calculating indifference and at worst a mixture of suspicion and hostility, tyranny and submission, alienation and rage.” The result was that the “Elizabethan village was a place filled with malice and hatred, its only unifying bond being the occasional episode of mass hysteria, which temporarily bound together the majority in order to harry and prosecute the local witch.”50

There are a number of problems with this picture of the European families in which the first American explorers and colonists were raised. As E.P. Thompson and Alan Macfarlane have pointed out, many of Stone's generalizations about the supposedly brutish family life of the preindustrial poor “reproduce, with comical accuracy, the ideology and sensibility of eighteenth century upper class paternalism.” But even the upper classes are not treated well by a method that deduces states of feelings from entries in account books and uses sensational press accounts and court cases, by definition atypical, to establish the brutality of everyday human relations. In painting a picture of cold familial relations, Stone frequently “interprets lack of evidence as indicative of lack of feeling,” as well as actually distorting the record: Macfarlane complains that his own study of a seventeenth-century clergyman's reaction to a child's death cited by Stone as evidence of parental indifference, actually reveals “a controlled sadness ... far from a ‘cold-blooded’ lack of feeling.”51 In arguing that intimate relations between spouses were an eighteenth-century development, Stone has to ignore a whole tradition of English love poetry going back to Chaucer's fourteenth-century “Franklin's Tale.”

It is true, of course, that many — if not most — literate households in preindustrial England held different values about parental relations to children and about the importance of romantic love between spouses than Americans do today but this did not necessarily have a negative impact on other emotional relationships. “The Wanderer,” an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem of the eleventh century, reveals the loneliness and despair of a man bereft of a loved one. The emotions expressed in “The Wanderer” are no less real, intense, or indicative of sensitive interpersonal relations because they are addressed to the loss of a lord and “gold-giver” than if they had been occasioned by the loss of a wife or child. In many primitive societies, and also among many communities in early medieval Europe, intensity of feeling between parents and children or between marriage partners has been seen as a threat to larger solidarity groups, and a kind of ritualized sexual or age-group hostility has served to cement loyalty to kin groups and peers. Early Christian writers such as St. Augustine feared the selfish effects of a narrow sexual union and advocated celibacy as a means to creating a wider community of love. Indeed, there is some evidence that in both Europe and America the turn toward a more emotionally nurturing family life was associated with a turn away from community sociability or wider same-sex friendships.52

Obviously, the evaluation of past generations' states of mind is fraught with difficulties, and it would behoove us to avoid value judgments that may simply reflect our inability to understand the richness and complexity of different emotional patterns. Hans Medick and David Sabean point out that different groups use varying linguistic conventions that often mask the actual mix of instrumental and affective motives in their behavior. Peasant and working-class patterns of communication, for example, constructed to reinforce social categories and solidarities, may disguise affective, individualized emotions in the language of custom, interest, and obligation. As Basil Bernstein has observed, “tender feelings which are personal and highly individual will not only be difficult to express in this linguistic form” but will also be translated into “tough terms” that help contain the fear of “social isolation” that such feelings may evoke. In contrast, middle-class individuals tend to fear social solidarities and deny the strength of social categories, so their language creates the illusion that all relationships are personal, voluntary, and individualized. In the middle class, “claims to rights and the demands that obligations be fulfilled, property relations, material production, and instrumentality” are “mediated through a language intent on expressing relationships in a context of individuality” and on denying the existence of material interests.53

When instrumental considerations do prevail in a family, this still does not tell us much about the quality of family life. Louise Tilly has used individual case histories to show that family strategies based on instrumental calculation and even on child-sacrificing work practices could be extremely loving or extremely brutal, while we also know that marriages based on love and altruism can lead to bitter disillusion and violence. As E.P. Thompson has commented, “for the vast majority throughout history, familial relations have been intermeshed with the structures of work. Feeling may be more, rather than less, tender or intense because relations are ‘economic’ and critical to mutual survival.”54

Even the frequent abandonment of children in preindustrial populations is not always evidence for lack of parental feeling. John Boswell points out that abandonment of children in the ancient or medieval world did not necessarily lead to their deaths, but was a “putting out” or “offering” of a child that was an alternative to infanticide. In the Middle Ages the church regulated and facilitated the practice of abandonment through such customs as oblation, the donation of a child to a monastery, while many other “abandoned” children were probably raised as servants among nearby neighbors. Olwen Hufton has shown that abandonment often represented the only chance of survival for illegitimate children in eighteenth-century France. Many parents tried to keep track of — and sometimes to reclaim — their abandoned children, suggesting that the practice reflected social need rather than lack of love. As for the giving-up of children to other households in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, this was less a sign of social alienation than a means to establish “a dense and overlapping network of association” based on solidarity as well as deference.

Certainly, Tudor and Stuart England did witness a striking amount of human misery and social conflict, expressed in neglect of the infirm, emergence of a criminal underworld in the cities, brutal treatment of beggars and vagrants, and outbreaks of witchcraft accusations. But these problems are best comprehended as consequences of economic, social, and demographic disruptions: enclosures, price inflation, rack-renting, dissolution of the monasteries and dispersion of bands of medieval retainers, the growing absolutism of monarchical government, and the destruction of older social networks and interpersonal patterns. Real wages plummeted during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, while life expectancies fell during most of the seventeenth century. Stone himself points out that “between 1560 and 1620 there was an abrupt rise in a wide variety of indicators of social ‘anomy’ and a breakdown of consensual community methods of dealing with conflict.” This was “probably brought on by a combination of socially unmanageable demographic growth, a collapse of cultural norms and controls in the wake of the Reformation, the spread of a profit-oriented ideology, and a growing economic fissure between rich and poor,” as well as the demobilization of unemployed soldiers.56

It seems plausible to argue that the brutal family incidents Stone cites in The Family, Sex and Marriage were more products than cause of these social conditions and that the self-consciously affective family developed as a refuge from these tensions for those fortunate enough to be free of the worst poverty. To say that affectionate families helped to compensate for the conflicts engendered by class stratification is entirely different from suggesting that the family based on affective individualism is the only source of human sociability, cooperation, and happiness.

Both Christopher Lasch and Richard Sennett question whether the evolution of affective individualism has been such a boon to society or families, and each analyzes that evolution differently. Lasch suggests that the trend toward egalitarian relations — Stone's “affective individualism” — is a twentieth-century development that has had adverse effects on family life. It has destroyed the productive intensity of the nineteenth-century family, which forced young people to develop a superego by working through the Oedipus complex in conflict with a strong father. His view derives from his definition of the nuclear family as the primary unit of socialization, coupled with his assumption that the only route to personal autonomy is through resolution of the Oedipus complex. Richard Sennett, on the other hand, sees the nineteenth-century family as having many characteristics of affective individualism — a growing role for the mother, intense involvement in child-rearing, and so on — but he labels this family dysfunctional, its inherent conservatism interfering with members' social mobility, its role as refuge from the city leading to an erosion of paternal authority, and its intensity threatening “to destroy the emotional power and the dignity of the people whom it sheltered.”57

Both these authors, however, base their assessments on the assumption that an effective family requires a strong father figure. Often ignored in such debates is the experience of minorities and women. Many non-Western cultures and national minorities within Western cultures have created autonomous individuals and workable communities without either the companionate individualism, the sharp Oedipal struggles, or the strong father figures supposedly fostered in various Western families.58

Lasch's nostalgia for the benefits of nineteenth-century struggles against the father ignores the effect of the patriarchal family on wives and female children. Indeed, his work implies that the main point of families is to provide for the emotional development of male children, the only ones whose superegos can be sharpened by confrontation with a father/rival. But the celebrants of affective individualism also sometimes neglect the experiences of women within the family. While Stone and Degler are correct to stress that the rights of English and American women within marriage have increased steadily since the eighteenth century, this should not blind us to some of the losses that working women experienced in the same period, nor to the increased emotional dependency and personal isolation that accompanied the new concept of family life even for middle-class women. Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English have further suggested that the triumph of liberal capitalism replaced older patriarchal ideology with a “masculinist” world-view that did little to liberate women: it substituted a “scientific” or “rational” denigration of womanhood for the personal oppression of women within the household, making women not “inferiors” but “aliens.”59

One attempt to describe changes in family relations without reducing the complexities of class, gender, and region to a single generalization is that of Louise Tilly and Joan Scott, who identify three stages of the family economy in Europe: the preindustrial economy of household production; the wage economy, relying on wages of children to supplement those of the male household head; and the consumer economy, in which parent-child relations focus on reproduction and consumption rather than wages, wives work, and children are kept out of the marketplace. They do not, however, extrapolate linear trends in either work or emotion as consequences of this evolution. They point out, for example, that the initial impact of industrialization had different results for women workers, depending on the type of industry. Textile centers tended to pull women out of the home; mining or metal centers often saw a reduction in women's non-domestic work.60

This model is also broadly descriptive of changes in American families. However, it is important to avoid false dichotomies between types of families and to take full account of the coexistence and interdependence of different family types. The family economy of small masters, which used servants and apprentices to supplement the family workforce, was not a stage prior to wage-work but depended upon a wage economy among poorer villagers. The consumer economy of the middle class and skilled workmen depended initially on the wage economy of immigrant families, who provided domestic servants and cheap piece work, relieving the middle-class wife from much former domestic production. Even today, affluent two-earner “consumer” families re-create wage economy families elsewhere, as growing numbers of youth go to work in fast-food industries that such “consumer” families sustain and live at home for a longer period of time. Internationally, Immanuel Wallerstein, William Martin, and Torry Dickinson point out that the family consumer economy in the modern industrial core depends upon a worldwide economy in which a majority of households do not receive most of their income from wages. They suggest that the “commodification” of labor power in families of the core zone rests upon the reproduction of non-commodity households on the periphery (or even, I would add, among the poorest households within the core):

It is in the interests of employers who hire for wages to hire persons who live in households in which the majority of income is not from wages. In such cases, the employer can in fact pay wages that are below the minimum wage ... since the employer can count on the household obtaining sufficient income from other sources to compensate for the below-minimum wages.61

Family Systems in America

The remainder of this book attempts to examine general trends in American family systems without doing violence to the complexity of family forms and contradictory elements present within each system. It is always easier to critique the generalizations of others than to offer one's own, and the heavy reliance of this work on synthesis of secondary sources forces me to anticipate correction as more detailed studies of particular periods emerge. Nevertheless, I suggest that there have been in American history four broad categories of family systems, four family constellations whose shape was determined by a particular articulation of the dominant mode of production with the various classes, regions, and ideologies that comprised it. An ideal family stood at the center of each constellation; but a number of different families always orbited around that ideal. Each family system was part of the larger universe of social reproduction and each brought the genders into characteristic relations, both in and out of the family; but gender relations, like family orbits, varied in different economic and political subgroups.

The first family system in America was that of the native peoples. This was actually a kinship system rather than a family system, for despite the wide variety of residence, marital, and genealogical rules involved in different kin categories, all early Native American cultures subsumed the nuclear family and even the lineage in a much larger network of kin and marital alliances. The second system, established by the European colonists, was a household-family system, in which separate families had property and inheritance rights that set them off from others, but social reproduction was conducted through household and community institutions that did not privilege the family as a place for decision-making or emotional interactions. This system was part of a larger mode of production that found native principles of social organization an intolerable barrier to its expansion, and Native American systems of social reproduction were almost destroyed in the clash between the two, though right up to the present Native Americans have preserved a commitment to extended family and community ties. Ironically, at the same time as colonial Society was destroying one kinship system it was importing another, which it also attempted to destroy. African slaves and their descendants, however, strove with considerable success to preserve or re-create kinship networks and obligations.

From about the 1820s a new family system emerged, corresponding to increasing class stratification in the context of weakly developed institutions for reproducing class differences or expressing class interests. This system was characterized by a greatly idealized and abstract notion of the central, almost sacred, place of the sexual division of labor. Despite the fact that women in all classes worked outside the home throughout the period, the system rested on a conceptual separation between female reproductive activities and male productive ones, and is therefore accurately called the domestic family. The domestic family was organized around a clear division of labor between husband and wife and around child-raising strategies that involved explicit socialization to distinct class values and practices. The domestic ideal simultaneously obscured class and ethnic differences in America and testified to the real centrality of families as places where each class or ethnic group reproduced its position and pursued its own goals and interests.

A fourth type of family system emerged in the early 1900s, when the spread of education, mass production, national corporations, political rationalization, and new housing patterns obviated the need for distinctive reproductive strategies and directed attention to patterns of consumption. Now class differences were reproduced by families doing similar things. The new family shifted its axis from the parent-child relationship to the couple relationship and put forward the nuclear family unit as a place for qualitatively different relationships than those to be found with kin or friends. It also assumed a different relation to the state, as its privacy came to depend more and more on state support (and, eventually, on the state's invasion of privacy for alternative family forms). I will detail the evolution of this family in a sequel to this book.

Each of these systems entailed a different way of organizing and conceptualizing the rights and obligations of the individual in relation to others in society. Native American kinship systems extended obligations and rights as widely as possible, either through intricate rituals of kinship reciprocity or through supplementary institutions such as ceremonial friendships, games, and hospitality rules. The colonial household system reinforced class obligations and rights through a rigid system of hierarchy. Family relationships were subordinated to the organization of unequal but mutually dependent relationships within that hierarchy, and only at the very top of society could families extricate their own needs and interests from the larger system of deference and patronization. Even then they risked the violent assertion of customary relations over any innovations they might make. The domestic family developed out of the rejection of these hierarchical bonds and obligations. On the one hand it represented new possibilities for personal freedom; on the other it reflected a denial of wider obligations. Reciprocity and duty became gender obligations rather than social or political ones; inevitably, this spawned a re-examination of the gender roles on which the domestic family depended as well as revealing new possibilities for conflict between classes.


1. Paul Johnson, A Shopkeeper's Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837 (New York, 1978), p. 43; The Diary of Samuel Pepys, H. Wheatlee, ed. (New York, 1946), vol. 2, p. 57; Jean Louis Flandrin, Families in Former Times (Cambridge, 1979), pp. 4-17; David Herlihy, “The Making of the Medieval Family: Symmetry, Structure, and Sentiment,” Journal of Family History 8 (1983). On the difficulty of selecting commensurate family units or relations to study, see David Kertzer, “Anthropology and Family History,” Journal of Family History 9 (1984).

2. Kathleen Gough, “Is the Family Universal: The Nayar Case,” in Bell and Vogel, eds, A Modern Introduction to the Family (Glencoe, IL, 1960), pp. 76-92; Evelyn Blackwood, "Sexuality and Gender in Certain Native American Tribes: The Case of Cross-Gender Females,” Signs 10 (1984); Herbert Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925 (New York, 1976); Carol Stack, All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community (New York, 1974); Elliot Liebow, Tally's Corner (Boston, 1967).

3. Susan Rogers, “Woman's Place: A Critical Review of Anthropological Theory,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 20 (1982); Lila Leibowitz, Females, Males, Families: A Biosocial Approach (North Scituate, MA, 1978), p.8; Russell Middleton, Brother-Sister and Father-Daughter Marriage in Ancient Egypt, in Ruth Laub Coser, ed., The Family. Its Structures and Functions (New York, 1974); M.J. Levy and L.A. Failers, “The Family: Some Comparative Considerations,” American Anthropologist 61 (1959), p. 649.

4. G.P. Murdock, Social Structure (New York, 1949), pp. 2-3; Jane Guyer, “Household and Community in African Studies,” African Studies Review 24 (1981); Leibowitz, Females, Males, p. 5; Michael Mitterauer, “Marriage Without Co-Residence: A Special Type of Family Form in Rural Carinthia,” Journal of Family History 6 (Summer 1981).

5. Mark Poster, Critical Theory of the Family (London, 1978), pp. 143, 155; Ira Reiss, "The Universality of the Family,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 27 (1965); John Boswell, “Expositio and Oblatio: The Abandonment of Children and the Ancient and Medieval Family,” American Historical Review 89 (1984); Olwen Hufton, The Poor of Eighteenth-Century France (Oxford, 1974).

6. Donald Bender, “A Refinement of the Concept of Household: Families, Co-residence, and Domestic Functions,” American Anthropologist 69 (1967), pp. 503-4, and “De Facto Families and De Jure Households in Ondo,” American Anthropologist 73 (1973); Sylvia Yanagisako, "Family and Household: The Analysis of Domestic Groups,” American Review of Anthropology 8 (1979), p. 198.

7. “New Directions,” Journal of Home Economics (May 1975), p. 1. 8. Jane Collier, Michelle Rosaldo, and Sylvia Yanagisako, “Is There a Family? New Anthropological Views,” in Barrie Thorne with Marilyn Yalom, Rethinking the Family: Some Feminist Questions (White Plains, 1982), p. 33.

9. Ibid., p. 28; Leibowitz, Females, Males, p.21.

10. Carl Degler, At Odds: Women and the Family in America from the Revolution to the Present (New York, 1981), pp. 472-3.

11. Yanagisako, Family and Household, p. 200.

12. The phrase comes from Kingsley Davis, who modifies Murdock by adding this to reproduction, maintenance, and socialization as universal functions of the family: Human Society (New York, 1950), p. 395.

13. Christopher Jencks, Who Gets Ahead? The Determinants of Economic Success in America (New York, 1979); James Coleman, “Towards Open Schools,” The Public Interest (Fall 1967); Frederick Mosteller and Daniel Moynihan, eds, On Equality of Educational Opportunity (New York, 1972); Signs, special issue on “Women and Poverty,” 10 (1984). For a discussion of the existence of an American ruling elite, entrance to which is based almost exclusively on family background and inheritance, see G. William Domhoff, Who Rules America (Englewood Cliffs, 1967).

14. Rayna Rapp, Ellen Ross, and Renate Bridenthal, “Examining Family History,” Feminist Studies 5 (1979), p.239 and passim.

15. Ibid., p. 233.

16. Ibid., p. 177.

17. Yanagisako, Family and Household, pp. 186-7: Renate Bridenthal, "The Dialectics of Production and Reproduction in History,” Radical America 10 (1976); Michael Anderson, "Family and Class in 19th-Century Cities,” Journal of Family History 2 (1977), p. 140.

18. For a discussion of the impact of slavery on white relations see Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York, 1974) and David Brion David's discussion of Hegel's master-slave dialectic in The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1790-1823 (Ithaca, 1975), pp. 557-564. On pressures from the working class that helped shape the Northern bourgeois family, see Johnson, Shopkeeper, pp. 47-55.

19. Glen Elder, Jr., “Family History and the Life Course,” in Tamara Hareven, ed., Transitions: The Family and the Life Course in Historical Perspective (New York, 1978), pp. 17-64. For an example of the use of the “linkages” concept, see pp. 35-8. The passages seem to imply that the historical experience of each cohort becomes a fixed variable that can be plugged into an analysis, rather than recognizing that historical experience itself is filtered through and subjected to reinterpretation by the ongoing dialectic between individuals and society. See also Tamara Hareven's thoughtful “Cycles, Courses and Cohorts: Reflections on Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to the History of Family Development,” Journal of Social History 12 (1978). On the difficulties with the life-course approach, including the problems of making commensurable analyses of individual experiences, household experiences, and family experiences, see David Kertzer, "Future Directions in Historical Household Studies,” Journal of Family History 10 (1985).

20. For examples of fruitful, though very different, historical interpretations using this approach, see Daniel Scott Smith, “Family Limitation, Sexual Control, and Domestic Feminism in Victorian America,” in Nancy Cott and Elizabeth Pleck, eds, A Heritage of Her Own (New York, 1979), Laura Owen, “The Welfare of Women in Laboring Families: England 1860-1950,” Feminist Studies 1 (1973), and Heidi Hartman, "The Family as the Locus of Gender, Class and Political Struggle: The Example of Housework,” Signs 6 (1981).

21. Joseph Demartini, “Change Agents and Generational Relationships: A Reevaluation of Mannheim's Problem of Generations,” Social Forces 64 (1985).

22. See, for instance, Leslie Tentler, "The World of Work for Working Class Daughters, 1900-1930,” in Mel Albin and Dominick Cavallo, Family Life in America, 1600-2000 (St. James, New York, 1981), pp. 185-202. As Jonathon Prude has put it, the working class family was both “victimized and resilient, both altered by the conditions in which it lived and capable of helping people cope with those conditions” (“The Family in Context,” Labor History 17 1976, p. 425). "Helping people cope,” however, is quite literally a conservative role, and the impact of this on wives has been discussed by Ruth Milkman, Women's Work and the Economic Crisis, in Cott and Pieck, Heritage, pp. 507-541. Along similar lines, Linda Gordon suggests that the family system has disguised a sharp decline in the standard of living for the working class: the number of work hours per family has risen in the second half of the twentieth century as inflation has lessened the viability of a one-income family (Gordon, Woman's Body, p. 412).

23. On the uneven impact of industrialization see E. Anthony Wrigley, “Reflections on the History of the Family,” in Rossi, Kagan, and Hareven, eds, The Family (New York, 1978) and the articles by Richard T. Wann, Mary Lynn McDougall, and Theresa M. McBride in Bridenthal and Koonz, eds, Becoming Visible: Women in European History (Boston, 1977). For a good review of the differences over the trends in family history and their originating groups or factors, see Barbara Harris, “Recent Work on the History of the Family: A Review Article,” Signs 4 (1976).

24. Peter Laslett and Richard Wall, eds, Household and Family in Past Time (Cambridge, 1972), p. xi.; W.A. Armstrong, “A Note on the Household Structure of Mid-Nineteenth Century York in Comparative Perspective” and Michael Anderson, “Household Structure and the industrial Revolution: Mid-Nineteenth-Century Preston in Comparative Perspective,” in Laslett and Wall, Household and Family.

25. Lutz. Berkner, “The Stem Family and the Developmental Cycle of the Peasant Household: An Eighteenth Century Austrian Example,” American Historical Review 77 (1972).

26. Walter Goldschmidt and Evelyn Kunkel, “The Structure of the Peasant Family,” American Anthropologist 73 (1971); Richard Ring, “Early Medieval Peasant Households in Central Italy,” Journal of Family History 4 (1979); Robert Wheaton, “Family and Kinship in Western Europe: The Problem of the Joint Family Household,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 4 (1979); Herlihy, Medieval Family, p. 117; Peter Laslett, “Mean Household Size in England Since the Sixteenth Century,” in Laslett and Wall, Household and Family, p. 144; Peter Laslett, “Characteristics of the Western Family Considered Over Time,” Journal of Family History 2 (1977), p. 98.

27. Flandrin, “Families in Former Times,” p. 65; Laslett, “Mean Household Size,” pp. 34-6, 154.

28. Richard Wall, “The Household: Demographic and Economic Change in England, 1650-1970,” in Wall, ed. (with Robin and Laslett), Family Forms in Historic Europe (New York, 1983), pp. 493-512.

29. Philippe Aries, Centuries of Childhood (New York, 1962); Wall, “The Household,” pp. 493-512.

30. J. Hajnal, “Two Kinds of Pre-Industrial Household Formation Systems,” in Richard Wall, ed., with Jean Robin and Peter Laslett, Family Forms in Historic Europe (New York, 1983); J. Hajnal, “European Marriage Patterns in Perspective,” in D.W. Glass and D.E.C. Eversley, eds, Population in History: Essays in Historical Demography (London, 1965); Peter Laslett, “Family and Household as Work Group and Kin Group: Areas of Traditional Europe Compared,” in Wall, Family Forms (1983), p. 555.

31. Laslett, Family and Household, p. 547; Renate Bridenthal, “The Family: The View From a Room of Her Own” in Thorne and Yalom, Rethinking, p. 230; R.M. Smith, “Kin and Neighbors in a Thirteenth-Century Suffolk Community,” Journal of Family History 4 (1979),

32. David Herlihy, “Family Solidarity in Medieval Italian History,” in Herlihy, Lopez, and Slessarev, Economy, Society and Government in Medieval Italy (Kent, 1969); Michael Anderson, Family Structure in 19th-Century Lancashire (Cambridge, 1971); Harvey Smith, “Family and Class: The Household Economy of Languedoc Winegrowers,” 1830-1870, Journal of Family History 9 (1984).

33. H. Befu, “Ecology, Residence and Authority: The Corporate Household in Central Japan,” Ethnology 7 (1968); Murdock, Social Structure; Jack Goody, “The Evolution of the Family,” in Laslett and Wail, Household and Family; Richard Wilk and William Rathje, “Household Archaeology,” American Behavioral Science 25 (1982), p. 632; Pasternak, Ember, and Ember, “On the Conditions Favoring Extended Family Households,” Journal of Anthropological Research 32 (1976).

34. Richard Wilk and Robert McC.Netting, “Households; Changing Forms and Functions,” in Robert McC.Netting, Richard Wilk, and Eric J. Arnould, eds, Households: Comparative and Historical Studies of the Domestic Group (Berkeley, 1984), p. 10; A. Gordon Darroch and Michael Ornstein, “Family and Household in Nineteenth-Century Canada: Regional Patterns and Regional Economics,” Journal of Family History 9 (1984); Hans Medick, “The Proto-industrial Family Economy,” Social Theory 3 (1976); Marc Bloch, Feudal Society (Chicago, 1966); Diane Hughes, “Urban Growth and Family Structure in Medieval Genoa,” Past and Present 66 (1975).

35. Goldschmidt and Kunkel, “Peasant Family”; Ring, “Early Peasant Households”; Wheaton, “Joint Family Household”; Jack Goody, Production and Reproduction (Cambridge, 1976).

36. Wheaton, Joint Family, p. 618.

37. Harvey Smith, “Languedoc Winegrowers,” p. 80. See also Lutz Berkner and Franklin Mendels, "Inheritance Systems, Family Structure and Demographic Patterns in Western Europe (1700-900),” in Charles Tilly, ed., Historical Studies in Changing Fertility (Princeton, 1978), and McC.Netting and Wilk, “Households,” esp. pp. 11-14.

38. Stephen Weinberger, “Peasant Households in Provence: Ca. 800-1100,” Speculum 48 (1973); Darroch and Ornstein, Family in Canada, p. 73.

39. Laslett, "Family and Household,” table 17.5, p. 527 and p. 555; Alan Macfarlane, review of Stone, History and Theory 18 (1979), pp. 112-13.

40. Yanagisako, "Family and Household."

41. J. Bourgeois-Pichat, "The General Development of the Population of France Since the Eighteenth Century,” in Glass and Eversley, Population in History, p. 490; Sydney Coontz, Population Theories and the Economic Interpretation (London, 1968); Michael Drake, ed., Population in Industrialization (London, 1969); Linda Gordon, Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America (New York, 1976); David Levine, Family Formation in an Age of Nascent Capitalism (New York, 1977); David Levine, “Proto-Industrialization and Demographic Upheaval,” in Leslie Page Moch and Gary Stark, eds, Essays on the Family and Historical Change (College Station, Texas 1983), pp. 9-34; E.A. Wrigley, Population and History (New York, 1969), pp. 113-15.

42. E.A. Wrigley and Roger Schofield, The Population History of England 1541-1871: A Reconstruction (Cambridge, MA, 1981).

43. Roger Schofield, “English Marriage Patterns Revisited,” Journal of Family History 10 (1985), pp. 16 and 18.

44. Levine, “Family Formation; Medick, Proto-industrial Family”; D.E.C. Eversley, “Population, Economy and Society,” in Glass and Eversley, Population and History, pp. 48 and 59.

45. Levine, Family Formation; Mahmood Mamdani, The Myth of Population Control: Family, Caste and Class in an Indian Village (New York, 1973); Robert Hackenberg, Arthur Murphy, and Henry Selby, “The Urban Household in Dependent Development,” in McC.Netting, Wilk, and Arnould, Households; Wally Secombe, “Marxism and Demography,” New Left Review 137 (1983).

46. Philip Greven, “The Average Size of Families and Households in the Province of Massachusetts in 1764 and in the United States in 1790,” in Laslett and Wall, Household and Family, p. 552; Richard Easterlin, “Factors in the Decline of Farm Family Fertility in the United States: Some Preliminary Research Results, in Gordon, American Family in Social-Historical Perspective.” Easterlin here rejects the demand-for-labor analysis on the basis that fertility rates were high when wage rates were low, but as I have argued the preindustrial family's demand for labor was at its highest when wage rates were low. However, he accepts a demand-for-labor analysis of immigration rates, which did vary directly with wage rates, in Population, Labor Force, and Long Swings in Economic Growth (New York, 1968), p. 31.

47. Olga Linares, "Households Among the Diola of Senegal: Should Norms Enter by the Front or the Back Door?" in McCNetting, Wilk, and Arnould, Households, p. 408; Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston, 1966), pp. 520-1.

48. Medick, “Proto-Industrial Family," p. 295; Women's Economic Agenda Report (Oakland, 1987), p. 35; Jane Collier and Michelle Rosaldo, "Politics and Gender in Simple Societies," in Ortner and Whitehead, Sexual Meanings (New York, 1981), pp.283-9.

49. Edward Shorter, The Making of the Modern Family (New York, 1975); Joan Scott and Louise Tilly, 'Women's Work and the Family in Nineteenth Century Europe," Comparative Studies in Society and History 17 (1975); Philippe Aries, Centuries of Childhood (New York, 1962); Lawrence Stone, "The Massacre of the Innocents," New York Review of Books, 14 November, 1974. Other books purporting to find a trend toward emotional liberation and "better" attitudes toward children (though disagreeing on the class origins of the trend) include: Carl Degler, At Odds; Daniel Smith, Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake Society (Ithaca, 1980); Randolph Trumbach, The Rise of the Equalitarian Family (New York, 1978); Lloyd deMause, The History of Childhood (New York, 1972).

50. Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 (New York, 1977), pp. 80, 93, and "Massacre.

51, E.P. Thompson, "Happy Families," New Society, 8 September, 1977, p. 501; Alan Macfarlane, The Nation, p. 116.

52. "The Wanderer," in M.H. Abrams, ed., The Norton Anthology of English Literature, voi. 1 (New York, 1968) p. 91; Aries, Centuries of Childhood; Aloan Macfarlane, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England (New York, 1970); Gordon, Woman's Body, p. 194; Nancy Cott, "Passionless: An Interpretation of Victorian Sexual Ideology, 1790-1850," and Caroli Smith-Rosenberg, “The Female World of Love and Ritual," in Cott and Pleck, eds, Heritage.

53. Hans Medick and David Sabean, Interest and Emotion: Essays on the Study of Family and Kinship (New York, 1984), pp. 11-13.

54. Louise Tilly, "Individual Lives and Family Strategies in the French Proletariat," Journal of Family History 4 (1979); Thompson, "Happy Families," p. 501.

55. Boswell, “Expositio and Oblatio"; Hufton, "Poor of 18th-Century France"; Grant McCracken, “The Exchange of Children in Tudor England," Journal of Family History 8 (1983), p. 309.

56. Lawrence Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641 (New York, 1974); C.H. George, “The Making of the Bourgeoisie," Science and Society 4 (1971); John Pound, Poverty and Vagrancy in Tudor England (London, 1981); Macfarlane, Witchcraft; Wrigley and Schofield, Population in History, pp. 439 and 441; Lawrence Stone, "Interpersonal Violence in English Society, 1390-1980," Past and Present 101 (1983), pp. 31-2.

57. Christopher Lasch, "The Emotions of Family Life," New York Review of Books, 27 November, 1975, p. 39 and Haven in a Heartless World, p. 182 and passim; Richard Sennett, Families Against the City: Middle Class Homes of Industrial Chicago, 1872-1890 (Cambridge, MA, 1970), p. 217. Sennett's approach is, of course, in opposition to the classic sociological formulations about the functional nature of the nuclear family for modern industrial systems. See, for example, Taicott Parsons, Robert Bales, et al., Family, Socialization and Interaction Process (Glencoe, 1955) and Neil J. Smelser, Social Change in the Industrial Revolution (Chicago, 1959).

58. James Axtell, Indian Peoples of Eastern America (New York, 1980); Carol Stack, All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community (New York, 1974); Colin Turnbull, The Forest People (New York, 1962); Nancy Tanner, "Matrifocality in Indonesia and Africa and Among Black Americans," in Michelle Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere, eds, Women, Culture and Society (Stanford, 1974).

59. Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, "Reflections on the 'Woman Question,'" Working Papers for a New Society (Cambridge, MA, 1978) Keith Snell, ed., Annals of the Laboring Poor: Social Change and Agrarian England, 1600-1900 (Seanan, OH, 1972).

60. Louise Tilly and Joan Scott, Women, Work and Family (New York, 1978).

61. Immanuel Wallerstein, William Martin, and Torry Dickinson, "Household Structures and Production Processes: Preliminary Theses and Findings," Review 3 (1982), p. 440.


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