Segments in this Video

Changing Family (03:42)


The family is where the most influential moments of human life occur. The cradle of childhood, family can also be the source of tragedy and incurable wounds. Recently, the concept of family has radically changed.

Ancient Human Family (01:53)

Since mankind first appeared, men and women, unlike other animals, raised their offspring together. André Burguière asserts that role differentiation must have begun very early on in human development.

Ancient Egyptian Family (03:48)

Egyptians left the first documented accounts of family life 4000 years ago. Florence Maruéjol discusses the structure and customs of Egyptian families, and emphasizes the strength of their family values.

Ancient Chinese Family (01:11)

For 2500 years, the teachings of Confucius influenced the Chinese. who ascribed enormous importance to the family line. Gender differences were deeply entrenched into the family structure.

Ancient Roman Family (02:39)

In Rome, the term 'familia' encompassed everyone in the household, including servants. The father had all rights, including the power of life or death over his children. Sons were a Roman father's most important possession. Child abandonment and adoption were common practices.

Medieval Family and Vendetta (03:58)

Pieter Spierenburg asserts that the strength of the medieval family developed during times of weak state leadership. Families did not hesitate to exercise vendetta on other families in order to protect themselves. Beatrice Gottlieb explains the role of death in the make-up of families.

Pre-Industrial Era Families (03:44)

Families often lived together in a single room where the mother usually bore 5 or 6 children. Death and poverty were commonplace, and often mothers gave their babies away. Pre-industrial families functioned as small production units.

Families in Industrialized Europe (02:27)

As peasants poured into cities, their living conditions worsened and health problems were enormous. No longer was the family a production unit, but instead a place for workers to feel comforted and loved. Today's family ideal has its roots in these early 20th-century families.

Post-WWII Baby Boom (01:57)

After WWII, a demographic phenomenon unprecedented in history occurs: the Baby Boom. From 1946-1964, parents had more children than ever before. Henri Leridon notes that the ideal of children raised in a two-parent household is based on this particular period.

Meaning of Family (03:54)

Hélène Tremblay talks about basic family needs. Internationally, these needs are met in different ways by different family structures, such as polygamous African families.

China's Family Policy (01:44)

In China, the government abolishes patriarchal authority, and introduces equality of the sexes. Its most restrictive measure is the policy of the only child. In China, a son insures a successor to take over the care of the family; as a result, one million female babies disappear each year.

Machismo and Family Instability (01:20)

In certain Caribbean countries whose history of slavery precluded paternal support, a tradition still exists in which women are the primary caretakers of children. In Brazil, male "machismo" removes most parental responsibilities from males.

American Family Ideal (01:54)

In the U.S., the family is considered to be the "very essence" of the nation, as it is perceived as the center of consumption and vital for the health of the economy. It is also where good citizens are "forged." Yet America's families are breaking down.

Family Crisis (04:33)

Attitudes towards love and sex have changed since the introduction or reliable birth control methods. Today, having children is a choice and not a necessity, and parents are taught that parental happiness comes before their children's well being.

Disconnected Teens (02:44)

One of the most revealing signs of teenage distress is their suicide rate, which in some industrialized countries has reached record highs. The rift between generations is increasingly marked.

Role of Grandparents (01:07)

More and more, the elderly are abandoned to group homes where their family network disappears. Both grandparents and grandchildren lose in this arrangement.

Ideal Family Image (04:01)

The image Americans have of the "traditional family" dates from the 1950s. In Western societies, the state takes up part of the burden that used to be on families alone. Daycare centers and volunteer grandparents help replace families for America's children.

Family (02:59)

The family in America today began to develop its various forms in the 1960s. Today's families consist of two parents, one parent, a reconstituted family, and second families. Families will always be the best and the worst at the heart of the human condition.

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From prehistoric extended families to today’s double-income and single-parent families, the family as an institution has undergone dramatic change. This program examines the concept of family as viewed around the world and down through time. Historians André Burguière and Pieter Spierenburg; authors Beatrice Gottlieb and Hélène Tremblay; Henri Leridon, of the Institute for Demographic Studies; and Egyptologist Florence Maruejol discuss family structure in agrarian societies, life in a polygamous family, the practice of infanticide, the effects of the Industrial Revolution, the impact of the Baby Boom, the upsurge in generational alienation, the impact of divorce, and other topics. (53 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL10340

ISBN: 978-1-4213-0621-6

Copyright date: ©1998

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.