Originally published in 1988, the author of the classic Family and Marriage in Britain (1962), Professor Ronald Fletcher here makes a new appraisal of the family in society today. Comprehensive in its range of material and straightforward in style, the book represents his thoughts on the family and marriage in Britain in the 1980s.

Since the 1969 Divorce Reform Act, many anxieties had been felt and voiced about the trends of divorce, marital breakdown, the growing instability of the family and so on. The changes, however, were hard to discern and assess, statistical records difficult to interpret reliably. Ronald Fletcher discusses these continuing anxieties and presents a thorough-going critical review of these changes and statistics. In his conclusions he emphasises the continuing importance in modern society of the family and marriage.

Professor Fletcher examines the family as both an agent and symptom of change. He explores in detail the relation between family life and the deeper long-term changes which had been at work throughout the twentieth century – the disrupting experience of world wars; the rapidity of technological and social change; the many-sided changes in communications; the spread of secularisation; and changes in education – seeking a profound and satisfactory causal explanation. He ends with a consideration of the future of the family and society alike, and what our social and educational policies ought to be if certain values and qualities of life are to be sustained.

The Shaking of the Foundations is the companion volume to The Abolitionists (1989), in which Ronald Fletcher critically examines the anti-family arguments of the previous thirty years.

chapter |5 pages


part |37 pages

Preparatory Considerations

part I|84 pages

The Family in Britain: After the Divorce Reform Act

part II|147 pages

A World in Transformation: Progress and Crisis

chapter 1|5 pages


chapter 3|65 pages

Larger issues Crisis

The shaking of the foundations

chapter 4|57 pages

The Future of the Family