Measuring Immorality: Social Inquiry and the Problem of Illegitimacy

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 13, 1998 - History - 215 pages
Why do conservative politicians and scholars in Britain, Australia and the United States continue to view rising rates of out-of-wedlock births and teenage pregnancies as a threat to civilised society? This book examines the process by which social science transforms a biological event - a birth - into a social and moral problem. Drawing on Foucault's 'archaeology of knowledge', Reekie stresses the role of statistics and other social-scientific discourses in the emergence of the illegitimacy 'problem' in the early nineteenth century and its continuing cultural significance. The book illustrates the continuity in concerns about illegitimacy, including pressure on the welfare system, fears of racial and intellectual denigration, the detrimental nature of fatherless families, and the association of rising illegitimacy with the supposed selfishness of excessively independent women.
 

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Contents

Assessing the Problem
1
Bastards and Children of the Parish
21
Statistics and the Birth of a Social Problem
27
Reproducing at the Nations Expense
48
Illegitimate Genes and Racial Inferiority
66
The Immorality of the White Working Class
85
Illegitimate Infancy A Deadly Risk
103
Offspring of Feeble and Neurotic Minds
120
Fatherless Societies Go Primitive
140
Murphy Brown Feminism and Female Selfishness
159
The Possibilities of a Postmodern Illegitimacy
177
List of References
189
Index
212
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