Introducing the Political Family: A New Road Map for Critical Family Law

Zvi Triger


All families are political, each in its own way. Nevertheless, the diversity of family politics has not negated, by and large, patriarchal influence on the Political Family. This Article introduces the Political Family as a key concept in a scholarly and activist movement in family law studies which I identify as Critical Family Law. In Part I a reminder is offered that “alternative families” have existed since the dawn of history. However, I argue that despite constant changes in the configuration of the family, for the most part all family forms have adhered to patriarchy. Part II offers a brief overview of some of the central themes in contemporary critical study of family law. I show how dichotomies such as private/public and intervention/autonomy have lain at the basis of the definition of the family since antiquity, constantly shifting the very meaning of the family across time, cultures and legal traditions, but rarely challenging its patriarchal ideology. Such challenges necessitate a critical look at the language of rights and obligations within the family, in acknowledgment that this very discourse is already saturated with ideology and biased preconceptions. Under the umbrella of “Critical Family Law,” I explore the potential for promoting such a shift, discussing articles in this issue.

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