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Are historians' criticisms of Lawrence Stone's three-phase model of the English family justified

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Concern is raised about declining marriage and fertility rates, increased rates of de facto marriage, divorce and lone-parent families, and increased rates of female workforce participation. It is argued that these changes in family life have weakened family bonds and the quality of relationships within families. This in turn is thought to threaten community (Fukuyama 1996: quoted in The Age, 2001). The society of Early Modern age consisted of three classes i. e. nobility, bourgeoisie and peasantry. Nobility was the privileged stratum, while bourgeoisie belonged to the merchants and traders of the middle classes.

The peasants made the lower class of society. Early modern era was a very fertile period in respect of education and learning, and for art and literature; art was for moral values, not for the sake of art and the code of puritan ethics was strictly followed. There was harmony in society and education was given priority for the children. Campbell states: The period saw the spread of the printing press and the development of a widespread print culture. This was in the form of government documents like circulars and tax notices, a massive republication of the classical texts for schooling and universities, books on manners, learned books, lives of saints, broadsheets, ballads, and folktales dealing with all manner of subjects from chivalric romances to stories about demons and devils.

A gradual shift away from an exclusively oral culture to one that combined morality and literacy took place, and this produced changes in patterns of thought towards more formal structures. (Campbell, 2001) The family life before the Industrial Revolution is thought to be simple and contented with affluent affection and strong ties among the members of the family.

There was patriarchal family system where the husband/father used to be the head and was considered the authority appointed by the will of the Heavens to look after his family. He was the responsible for providing food, clothes, shelter and protection to his family. Women and children, during that era, were subservient to him and seldom took independent decisions about their life as they revolt and demand freedom in modern world of today.

Mothers were compassionate and caring to the children, and they contained special concerns regarding home and family. Thorn comments on Stone’s portrayal of the society of early modern times as following: Since Lawrence Stones The Family, Sex, and Marriage, 1500-1800, eighteenth-century family history has burgeoned as a field, with many of the assertions most closely associated with Stone--such as the claims that the long eighteenth century saw the advent of the companionate marriage, affective individualism, sentimental motherhood, and reverence for childhood--receiving corroboration and contestation alike.

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preview essay on Are historians' criticisms of Lawrence Stone's three-phase model of the English family justified
  • Pages: 6 (1500 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Unsorted
  • Level: Undergraduate
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