Perhaps the most significant, and often disruptive, changes going on at the individual level are in relationships between men, women and their children. ‘None of the changes now are as important as those going on in our personal lives – the most difficult and disturbing changes of all’, British sociologist Anthony Giddens has remarked.1 The conventional family, in which the man is the master and leader, respected and obeyed by his wife and children, is fast disappearing. It was a creation of social and economic conditions now almost superseded in the Western world, and becoming so elsewhere.

When life was physically harder, and the accumulation of property usually slow and difficult, family coherence and loyalties ...

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