Reading History Sideways: The Fallacy And Enduring Impact Of The Developmental Paradigm On Family…

Paperback | August 2, 2013

byArland Thornton

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European and American scholars from the eighteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries thought that all societies passed through the same developmental stages, from primitive to advanced. Implicit in this developmental paradigm—one that has affected generations of thought on societal development—was the assumption that one could "read history sideways." That is, one could see what the earlier stages of a modern Western society looked like by examining contemporaneous so-called primitive societies in other parts of the world.

In Reading History Sideways, leading family scholar Arland Thornton demonstrates how this approach, though long since discredited, has permeated Western ideas and values about the family. Further, its domination of social science for centuries caused the misinterpretation of Western trends in family structure, marriage, fertility, and parent-child relations. Revisiting the "developmental fallacy," Thornton here traces its central role in changes in the Western world, from marriage to gender roles to adolescent sexuality. Through public policies, aid programs, and colonialism, it continues to reshape families in non-Western societies as well.

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European and American scholars from the eighteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries thought that all societies passed through the same developmental stages, from primitive to advanced. Implicit in this developmental paradigm—one that has affected generations of thought on societal development—was the assumption that one could "read ...

From the Jacket

European and American scholars from the eighteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries thought that all societies passed through the same developmental stages, from primitive to advanced. Implicit in this developmental paradigm—one that has affected generations of thought on societal development—was the assumption that one could "read ...

Arland Thornton is professor of sociology and a research professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Marriage and Cohabitation and Social Change and the Family in Taiwan, both also published by the University of Chicago Press.

other books by Arland Thornton

Format:PaperbackDimensions:322 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:August 2, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022610446X

ISBN - 13:9780226104461

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Part One - Introduction and Approaches
1. Introduction and Overview
2. Models, Data, and Methods
Part Two - Influence on Family Scholars
3. Views of Changes in Family Life from Reading History Sideways
4. The Fertility Decline in Northwest Europe
5. Changes in Family Life in the Northwest European Historical Record
6. The Scholarly Legacy
7. The Legacy of Data
Part Three - Influence on Individual and Community Actors
8. Developmental Idealism
9. Freedom, Equality, and Consent in Northwest European Family Relationships
10. Fighting Barbarism in the United States
11. Government Pathways of Influence outside Northwest Europe
12. Social and Economic Pathways of Influence outside Northwest Europe
13. The Power of Developmental Thinking
Postscript: Dealing with the Language of the Developmental Paradigm
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

"This is a much needed book about powerful conceptual frameworks that have been profoundly influential for centuries. . . . An impressive cultural tour de force. Reading History Sideways should be compulsory reading for any scholar working on families, especially demographers and family historians."