chapter  Chapter 15
19 Pages

Family Life and Illicit Love in England

A Review of Peter Laslett's Book*
WithJean-Louis Flandrin

In the seven historical sociology essays which Peter Laslett has grouped together under the title Family Life and Illicit Love in Earlier Generations, confrontation with sociologists seems no longer to be an issue. The Cambridge Group researchers have the impression that the familial pattern existed in England as early as the Middle Ages, perhaps in antiquity. "Characteristics of the Western Family Considered over Time", opens up new perspectives on the Western family pattern. According to the essay, it is distinguished not only by the predominance of the simple family unit — which may also be found in other regions of the world with completely different cultures — but by the existence of three other characteristics. The high average age at first pregnancy, the small average age gap between spouses and the high proportion of servants or households including servants.