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Title: The social aetiology of illegitimacy : its relationship to adoption and the status of women
Author: Gill, D. G.
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1973
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This investigation is concerned with the increase in Illegitimacy in Britain in the 1950's and 60's, the association between 11 legitimacy and other phenomena such as adoption, abortion and the welfare services available to single parent units, and the relationships between illegitimacy, changes in attitudes towards and patterns of sexual behaviour and changes in the status of women. Data derived from national statistics and intensive local studies of the register of births, hospital and medical social worker's records were used to describe the socio-economic, socio-demographic and socio-medical correlates of illegitimacy. Changes in the incidence of illegitimacy and adoption were documented and the influence of abortion on both phenomena noted. The extent and some consequences of anomalous family background and current single parentness 1n a cohort of children born between 1950--55 and aged between 9--14 years in 1964 was also examined. Changes in patterns of and attitudes towards sexual behaviour and changes in the status of women were outlined by comparing the condition of women in and the various codes of sexual morality of the 19th Century with the contemporary situation. Changing modes of explanation applied to Illegitimacy both historically and 1n the 20th Century were described and the reasons why such explanations gained credence discussed; Data from the epidemiological and socio-historical studies were combined to create a set of recommendations designed to reduce the number of ameliorate conditions of single parent units. A framework for the development of a theory of illegitimacy was constructed It was suggested that:- (1) Illegitimacy became stigmatised when it represented an economic threat to Elizabethan society because of the cost to the Parish of support for unmarried mothers, Nevertheless the underlying reason for the original and continuing condemndation of illegitimacy was and is the threat which it represents to one of the basic Institutions of society---the family. Stigmatisation of illegitimate maternity Is a boundary maintenance mechanism, making clear to all what are the acceptable limitations of sexual behaviour. (2) Methodologically suspect and logically inconsistent theories of explanation have been applied to illegitlmacy because of society's unwillingness to recognise that sotne groups endorse a different pattern of sexual morality than that of the dominant middle class. (3) Society's condemnation of illegitimacy may have persuaded some women to conceal their condition in whatever way was possible. (4) The recent Increase 1n illegitimacy stems more from the emergence of a less restrictive attitude towards sexual behaviour than it does from any lessening of society's condemnatory attitude towards childbirth outside marriage.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available