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Family Law and Personal Life$
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John Eekelaar

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198814085

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198814085.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Power
Family Law and Personal Life

John Eekelaar

Oxford University Press

This chapter establishes the book’s intention to critique the exercise of power of family practices against the values of an open society. As a background to understanding modern forms of family governance, it outlines the ‘welfarism’ thesis which maintains that family governance has moved from an era of instrumentalism, through a welfarist phase, to an era of scepticism about institutional structures, and claims for individual empowerment where rights claims have attempted to re-align the sources of power over people’s personal lives. The fragmentation of family forms suggests it may be better to see family law as the law relating to the personal lives of individuals, rather than related to specific social forms, and therefore be more appropriately termed ‘personal’ law.

Keywords:   power, open society, welfarism, rights, marriage, divorce, personal law

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