Families are changing dramatically; these two textbooks explore the implications from practical, legal, ethical and philosophical perspectives.
1. Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia (2014) Edited by by Alan Hayes and Daryl Higgins.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies recently released this new collection of essays on family policy and the law to inform government, legal professionals, service providers and the community about changes in these areas in recent years. The book explores a range of topics including trends in family formation; the child protection system; relationship breakdown; family violence and developments in social science and the law. The book includes contributions from 38 Australian authors in four key sections:
* Diverse family formation: Identity, recognition and law
* Legal and statutory responses to families in difficulty
* Relationship breakdown and family policies and practices
* Social science and developments in Australian law relating to families, safety and child wellbeing
The 29 essays occupy 326 pages and the volume is published in an impressive array of formats: pdf, epub, kindle and paper.
2. Families – Beyond the Nuclear Ideal (2012) Edited by Daniela Cutas & Sarah Chan.
In this book, the authors consider a range of relationship and family structures that depart from the nuclear family ideal: polyamory and polygamy, single and polyparenting, parenting by gay and lesbian couples, as well as families created through current and prospective modes of assisted human reproduction such as surrogate motherhood, donor insemination, and reproductive cloning. The arguments that recommend or disqualify each of these as legitimate units in our societies are posed and discussed in 14 chapters:
* The Role of Sexual Partnership in UK Family Law
* The Two-Parent Limitation in ART Parentage Law
* The Best Interest of Children and the Basis of Family Policy
* Donor-conceived Children Raised by Lesbian Couples
* Donor-Conception as a ‘Dangerous Supplement’ to the Nuclear Family
* Choosing Single Motherhood?
* Licensing Parents
* Liberal Feminism and the Ethics of Polygamy
* Distinguishing Polygamy and Polyamory Under the Criminal Law
* Sex and Relationships
* Human Cloning and the Family in the New Millennium
* Moral and Legal Constraints on Human Reproductive Cloning
The 14 chapters occupy 220 pages, and the publishers Bloomsbury Academic have made it freely available to read online.
At first glance, these two books might seem like chalk and cheese, but they complement one-another well. The new Australian book is a comprehensive volume that I can imagine referring to repeatedly during a working week. In contrast, I’ve had Cutas & Chan’s book for some time, and have found myself reading it of an evening, when there’s time to think through the complex ethical and philosophical issues that it raises.
Finally, if you’re looking for free textbooks on families, do remember Sociology of the Family (2010) by Hammond & Cheney, that heads-up my page on Free e-textbooks.