The Canadian Family in Crisis. 2nd ed.


237 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55028-421-5
DDC 306.85'0971




Reviewed by Elaine G. Porter

Elaine Porter is an associate professor of sociology and chair of the
Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Laurentian University.


Written in support of feminist objectives for families, this book is
filled with politically correct phrases such as “domestic enslavement
of women.” Just when we think that the traditional family might be the
answer to the problems that families are facing, Conway warns us that
there is no turning back. He even ends the book with a separate set of
policy suggestions for families to ensure that women do not continue to
bear all the costs of family change.

Why is it, then, that he has to repeatedly assert his underlying
message when it should flow logically from his analysis? The problem
resides in the crisis framework that Conway has chosen for his analyses.
In his first chapter, he outlines in familiar fashion the familial
changes that have taken place. He appears to want to use the rest of the
book as an accounting scheme for the problems that these changes have
created for women, children, and men. While seemingly evenhanded, this
structure does not allow easy incorporation of Conway’s list of
problems associated with the traditional family, which are needed for a
balanced assessment of the effects of familial changes.

Because the author’s approach is atheoretical and not well-grounded
historically, the evidence he marshals in each section does not
accumulate into a set of coherent arguments. His underlying concern in
the book is with those measures that can save marriages, because divorce
has devastating effects on children. This concern is not wrongheaded
but, by being disguised, may have prevented him from incorporating
history earlier than the Ozzie-and-Harriett era he uses as his yardstick
for the traditional family. This short timeframe makes it appear that
the women’s movement sprang to life in order to alienate women from
their familial roles. This more misogynous reading competes with
Conway’s view that women, past and present, have borne a
disproportionate burden in the context of the family unit.


Conway, John F., “The Canadian Family in Crisis. 2nd ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,