A World of Their Own Making

A World of Their Own Making : History of Myth and Ritual in Family Life

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Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's Day, white weddings, Father's Day and Mother's Day - all timeless traditions that have been part of family life for generations. Or are they? In this history of family life, John Gillis points out how they are rituals of recent invention, from the Victorian era. Our society is presently obsessed with the notion of "family values", and we kindle a nostalgia for a close family life that existed in previous generations. Yet John Gillis argues that the past which historians reconstruct is different from our own idealized notions. For example, families were rarely stable and secure environments: children were orphaned or left home at an early age to work and early widowhood was common. We may hark back to a "golden age" of the family but it is only by accepting that our rituals and myths must be open to perpetual revision that we can satisfy our needs - this is demonstrated by the new kinds of rites, whether collective birthdays in old age or divorce ceremonies, that are developing. As the families we live with become more fragile, the symbolic families we live by become more powerful. Our families are indeed worlds of our own making.
This book is intended for students and teachers of social history and sociology and anyone with an interest in the current debate on family values.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 330 pages
  • 120 x 190mm | 268g
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 4 b&w illustrations, notes, index
  • 019288042X
  • 9780192880420

Table of contents

Introduction. PART 1: Myths of Family Past. 1: At Home with Families of Strangers. 2: Life and Death in a Small Parenthesis. PART 2: A World of Their Own Making. 3: Making Times(s) for Family. 4: No Place Like Home. PART 3: The Perfect Couple. 5: Mothers Giving Birth to Motherhood. 6: Bringing Up Fathers. 7: Strangers in Our Midst. 8: Haunting the Dead. PART 4: Conclusion. 9: Remaking Our Worlds. Notes. Index
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