Thread: Family
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi View Post
I'll dispute that the concept of a nuclear family is a recent capitalist invention in the first place. There have been families long before capitalism came into being. A nuclear family (father, mother, children) is described in a variety of ancient documents and legal codes--Bible (Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus being one of the more famous ones), Roman and Greek documents, etc. The nuclear family has existed for thousands of years.
There are several schools on this and, as ever, the rivalry between renaissance scholars and medievalists can take precedence over the facts of the matter but: I'd dispute the idea that the nuclear family has been knocking about for "thousands of years". It's not really until the 17th century in Europe (although some medievalists would argue to the contrary) that the idea of the nuclear family emerges as something which is incredibly important and then (as now) it was very much a bourgeois obsession; something which is "done" and proper.

I don't think the many members of the upper classes who sent and send their children away to public schools on the other side of the country from the family home really think much about how that affects family relations. The primary concern is that it helps in building a network of contacts to be called upon when the need arises, a much more old fashioned view of familial relations: the extended family constructed of "aunts" of no relation whatsoever and other members of the same social class. Similarly so, you have to understand that the way in which medieval texts deal with marriage is not in terms of love or lust but of financial transaction and economic necessity. Men pay their marriage "debt" to women through sex. Women bear the children of men to perpetuate the feudal society (an economic model which is engaged entirely in self replication, something which capitalists can find quite difficult to understand). Female virginity is referred to as "treasure" (as it may still be done today in some of the more eccentric Dorsetshire pubs). The female body is constantly paralleled to the economic or social state of a city (with hang-overs in the early English renaissance: the violation scene in The Rape of Lucrece is dealt entirely by the simile of a city being overwhelmed). -- News and features will be returning shortly...

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