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They both follow and counter the bourgeois family’s prescribed gender roles. Although female, her grandmother is the family’s economic provider yet simultaneously upholds the cult of true womanhood.If her adherence to true womanhood is normative, her application of it to slave women is deviant.Another cluster includes “home” and “domestic,” as the title of the Beechers’ book suggests.
Fifty years later, ignoring both past and present social history, Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1965) issued a report that reduced the African American family to one single structure—the female-headed household—and classified it, in an uncanny echo of Jacobs’s language, as a “tangle of pathology” (29–45).
The word “household” returns us to Williams’s concept of .
Further critiques of the public/private-sphere dichotomy naturalized by bourgeois notions of the family drew from a diverse group of theorists who analyzed the family from different, if overlapping, perspectives.
From a feminist perspective, the family has been viewed as a patriarchal system of sexual and property relations supporting state interests in which the father alone is entitled to property, which includes his wife and children; in contrast, as , the wife is herself property and denied power of ownership.
If her role as primary provider challenges the gendered division of labor, her desire to use her earnings to purchase enslaved family members underscores her commitment to affective ties.
The post–Civil War era established the legality of African American marriage and family, which thereby affirmed U. blacks’ right to establish affective bonds just as it granted them the ability to acquire and transmit property.“Family” derives from the Latin , either in the sense of a group of servants or a group of blood-relations and servants living together in one house” (108).By extension, “familiar” connoted feelings of friendship and intimacy born of “the experience of people living together in a household, in close relations with each other and well used to each other’s ways” (109).This threat has echoed through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.Even progressive public policymakers have not been able to discard binaristic notions in relation to the black family.These processes of inclusion and exclusion have frequently been rearticulated as a tension between “norm” and “deviance.” Family, it turns out, is not a private, but very much a public, affair. Working on topics ranging from gender and slavery to sentimentality and nationhood, they mined the archives—notably John Locke’s (1884/1972)—to trace the evolution of the family from the North American colonial period onward.In the 1970s and 1980s, feminist historians, anthropologists, and literary critics embarked on the critical process of questioning traditional norms by exposing the bourgeois family as a nineteenth-century invention (Coontz 1988; M. In the earlier periods, domestic home and workplace formed a single economic unit located in the household; whether working on farms or in trades, all of a family’s members—father, mother, and children—contributed to its sustenance.In subsequent rendering, “family” came to signify , a kin group descended from a common ancestor.By the nineteenth century, family had acquired two distinct referents, the nuclear and the extended family.The Beechers’ definition of family suggests additional clusters of keywords.One is “blood,” “kinship,” and “lineage.” Family members are biologically related through blood (genetic markers), creating kinship ties and linking progenitors to descendants across generations to establish lineage.