Despite much talk of its decline, the nuclear family persists as a structure central to contemporary society, a fact to be lamented, according to the ideas of Michèle Barrett and Mary McIntosh. The Anti-social Family dissects the network of household, kinship and sexual relations that constitute the family form in advanced capitalist societies to show how they reinforce conditions of inequality. This classic work explores the personal and social needs that the family promises to meet but more often denies, and proposes moral and political practices for more egalitarian caring alternatives.
“An extremely brave, and with the benefit of hindsight, what must appear to be a very daring critique of the family.”
“The Anti-Social Family decries the idealization of the family put forth by such thinkers as Christopher Lasch, perceiving the family as a haven in a hapless world, but inevitably corrupted by the onset of modern capitalism. The book in turn rethinks the family through a feminist perspective, and denounces it as a structure which “promises so much and delivers so little”. As Carol Smart explains, the book chronicles the authors’ disappointment with the family as not being particularly beneficial to women and children, and moreover as possibly being detrimental to a wider, structural, social level. McIntosh and Barrett, and Smart herself, eventually lean “towards collectivized ways of meeting human needs”