The family has become a political battleground in both East and West. In the West, interventionist policies designed to encourage equality of opportunity and to eliminate the problems encountered by disadvantaged members of the traditional family (usually women, children and the elderly) have been replaced by a fresh quest for individual freedom from interference by the State. Once again inequality of economic power is determining decisions such as whether or if at all to seek divorce or abortion in situations where previously the State regulated by means of offering economic support. The process of 'rolling-back' the influence of the State has been dubbed 'privatisation' of the family, and the consequences of this shift by the State are here examined in considerable detail by a group of experts. The same examination of family in the East throws up similar terminology ('privatisation' for instance appears frequently) but the motivating forces and processes are intriguingly different. In the East concern to retain welfare provision, to reject the past, and to reflect national values without reducing individual liberty now requires a balancing act of extreme delicacy. State withdrawal from the family, leaving the family as a private sphere seems to be accompanied by a new emphasis on fundamental religious roles, which tend to stress differences between gender roles and to limit access to divorce or abortion in order to strengthen the 'traditional' family. The authors of this book examine this evolutionary process and ask what can be found of value in the exaggerated collectivism of the former communist regimes.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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