Title
Is contemporary western family law historically unique? Is contemporary western family law historically unique?
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Law
Publication type
article
Publication
Thousand Oaks, Calif. ,
Subject
Philosophy
Sociology
History
Source (journal)
Journal of family history. - Thousand Oaks, Calif., 1976, currens
Volume/pages
28(2003) :1 , p. 70-107
ISSN
0363-1990
1552-5473
ISI
000180049200005
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Over the past decades, a wave of family law reforms has shaken the very foundations of family law as known in the West over the past centuries. Strict gender equality has been introduced, the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children has been abolished, divorce has been facilitated, and the borderlines between marriage and cohabitation and between heterosexual and homosexual relations are fading. Is this new family law historically unique ? A broad historical and intercultural comparison undertaken to answer this question shows that a remarkable and unexpected substantive similarity can be observed between the family laws of the contemporary West and the folkways of some hunter-gatherer societies. This is explained by the fact that in both types of society, as opposed to nearly all other societies on the record, the social function of family law is reduced (or on its way to being reduced) to organizing fathers for newborn children.
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