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What is The Family of Law?

The Influence of the Nuclear Family

By: Alan Brown
Media of What is The Family of Law?
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Published: 07-02-2019
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 240
ISBN: 9781509919604
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £26.99
Online price : £21.59
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About What is The Family of Law?

This book argues that the legal understanding of 'family' in the UK continues to be underpinned by the idealised image of the 'nuclear family', premised upon the traditional, gendered roles of 'father as breadwinner' and 'mother as homemaker'. This examination of the law's model of the 'family' has been prompted by the substantial reforms that have taken place in family law in recent decades, and the significant evolution in social attitudes and familial practices that has occurred in parallel.

Throughout the book, the influence of the nuclear family is noted in several different contexts: various specific legal definitions of 'family', the legal regulation of adult, conjugal relationships, the attribution of legal parenthood and the construction of the role of the 'parent' within the law. Ultimately, this book argues that while these reforms have resulted in additional categories of relationship coming to be situated within the nuclear family model, there has not, as yet, been any fundamental alteration of the underpinning concept of the nuclear family itself.

This book concludes by considering the possibilities offered beyond the 'nuclear family'; exploring the reconceptualising of the legal understanding of 'family' around alternative and potentially 'radical' models of 'family'.

Table Of Contents

I. Theoretical Context
II. Outline

1. What is the Law's 'Family'?
I. 'Family' as a Social Concept
II. The Law's 'Definition(s)' of 'Family'
III. The Influence of the Nuclear Family Model within the Definitions of 'Family'
2. The Historical and Philosophical Underpinnings of the 'Nuclear Family' Model
I. The 'Family' and the 'Legal Subject'
II. Critiquing the Orthodox Construction of the Legal Subject
III. The Nuclear Family as the Natural Model of 'Family'

3. The Legal Regulation of Conjugal Relationships
I. What is Marriage in UK Law?
II. The Centrality of Conjugality

4. The Attribution of Legal Parenthood within UK Law
I. Natural Reproduction
II. Assisted Reproduction
III. Surrogacy
5. The Legal Understanding of the Parental Role
I. What is the 'Parent' in the Law?
II. The Gendered Parenting Roles of the Nuclear Family
III. The Role of Lesbian 'Mothers' or 'Parents'

6. The Possibilities Offered by Alternative 'Models' of the 'Family'
I. Exploring the Conceptual Influences
II. Abstract Models and Real Families


“A timely contribution to the literature … of interest to academics, researchers and scholars involved in family law, not just within the UK but also well beyond its shores.” –  Kathryn O'Sullivan, University of Limerick, International Journal of Law, Policy and The Family

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