By Lydia Lambert

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Extra resources for Children in Changing Families: A Study of Adoption and Illegitimacy

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There is the sociological approach, which enquires into the norms, attitudes and function of illegitimacy (for example, Pinchbeck, 1954; Vincent, 1961; Malinowski, 1964; Goode, 1964; Ryan, 1971; HartIey, 1975; Gill, 1977). Some ofthe strands in this approach are historical, while others could almost be termed anthropological. Interwoven into both strands are the development of laws and customs in different countries and societies. A furt her element lies in the influence of moral and religious beliefs.

Sprey (1969), too, has pointed out that 'the absence of a father can be aggravated, decreased or neutralized due to the efTects of other conditions such as the availability offunds, relatives and community services'. ' Norms can be taken as read and no thought given to the manner in which the norms themselves contribute to the development of the problem (Ryan, 1971). For example, in a society where the twoparent family is the norm and where the family gains economic support from the male head ofthe household by means ofwages, the absence of a husband generally means poverty unless income-maintenance schemes provide a viable alternative.

It has been argued that women sutTer most from childlessness, and Kirk (1964) suggests that in adoption they may be prepared to compromise their preference for a boy by stating a preference for a girl in order to accommodate their husbands' reservations. Some have suggested, but without any real evidence, that a wife's desire for a girl child represents a narcissistic preference. Boys placed in a family where a girl child is preferred may be exposed to ambivalent attitudes and behaviour. 1fthis is the case, the ambivalence may atTect the development of the child.

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