This thesis has been inspired by the international trend reports of Reuben Hill and John Mogey on the output of family sociology. Originally the author aimed at the answering of the following fourfold problem: the development of the interest in the study of marriage and the family in the Netherlands; the theoreticcal, thematic and methodological developments of Dutch family research; the impact of theoretical and methodological insights developed abroad upon Dutch family studies; the extent to which Dutch family research meets the ideal of the survey model emphasized by both Hill and Mogey. Influenced by the identity crisis of sociology that arose in the late sixties, the author widened the scope of his study. To the problem as stated above he added the question about the relation between the development of family research per se and the societal evolution (mainly the change in values and norms).
After the introductory part of the book five chapters follow, the first four -mainly dealing with the development of family sociology beyond the Dutch boundaries. Chapter 1 gives an impression of the theories on marriage and the family that were developed during the 19th century. The presented material in this chapter makes clear that the political and the scientific approach to problems in the field of marriage and the family are narrowly intertwined. The second chapter deals with the sociology of marriage and the family during the period 1900-1940. This chapter pais special attention to the period 1918-1940. In this period the basis is laid for the theoretical and methodological developments that had a predominant influence on family research after the Second World War.
The third chapter deals with the thematic and methodological aspects of family research during the period 1945-1968. As this chapter is mainly based on the data from the trend reports of Hill and Mogey the emphasis is laid on a comparison between family research in the U.S.A. and the activities in this field outside the U.S.A. In the last of the four chapters devoted to the international developments in family sociology the reader finds a comparative analysis of the theoretical approaches that can be identified in post war family sociology. The last part of this chapter deals with the question why there is such a profound difference in theoretical orientation and thematical interest between family sociology in the U.S.A. and elsewhere.
The final chapter of the book outlines Dutch family sociology in its specific development and leads to conclusions about the national idiosyncracies versus the internationally common traits of Dutch family sociology. One of the main conclusions of this chapter is that in The Netherlands, where family research did not begin on a wider scale before the 1950s, problems and research themes reflect the particular character of Dutch society, whereas theoretical insights and methodology were mainly taken from abroad. It has mainly been European - and especially German - sociology that delivered the theoretical orientations. Second in importance were the ideas developed in the American structural functional approach of the family. These ideas matched very well and were incorporated in the merely institutional approach as it was developed in European family sociology. As far as the methods and techniques of family research are concerned it was American sociology that functioned as the supplier of the main research tool: the survey technique.