Political Visions and Family Regulation in British Columbia, 1862-1940
- Published: 2007
- Subject Listing: Gender Studies, Political Science, Canada
- Bibliographic information: 304 pp.
- Territorial rights: U.S. rights only
- Distributed for: UBC Press
Domestic Reforms tells a complicated story of family and welfare law reform within the context of British Columbia’s transformation from a British colonial enclave to a white settler Canadian province. It inherited a British legal system that granted married men control over most family property and imposed few obligations on them toward their wives and children. Yet from the 1860s onward, lawmakers throughout the Anglo-American world, including legislators on the Pacific Coast, began to grant women and children new rights. Feminist scholars have long debated the reasons for these reforms. Why did male legislators choose to depart from patriarchal norms, enacting laws that eroded husbands’ control over property and increased their obligations? More important, what were the legal and social consequences?
Chris Clarkson examines three waves of property, inheritance, and maintenance law reform, arguing that each was related to a broader political vision intended to precipitate vast social and economic effects. He analyzes the impact of the legislation, with emphasis on the ambitions of regulated populations, the influence of the judiciary, and the social and fiscal concerns of generations of legislators and bureaucrats.
Chris Clarkson teaches in the History Department at Okanagan College, British Columbia.
"This book tells a complicated story of family and welfare law reform within the context of British Columbia’s transformation from a British colonial enclave to a white settler Canadian province. It is an original and important addition to the literature on the regulation of families historically." - Dorothy E. Chunn, professor of sociology and co-director, Feminist Institute for Studies on Law and Society, Simon Fraser University
Part 1: The Yeoman Dream
1. Deserted Wives and Independent Men
2. Married Women, Country Wives, and Destitute Orphans
3. Chivalry and the Democratic Judiciary
Part 2: A Vision of Mutualistic Hierarchy
4. Creditors’ Rights, the 1887 Married Women’s Property Act, and the Emergence of a Liberal Femininity
Part 3: The Conservation of Child-Life
5. Maintaining the "Hope of the Race": Child-Saving in a Conservative Era, 1901-15
6. Child Protection and Women’s Equality in the Liberal Era, 1916-23
7. Public Policy, Published Decisions, and Police Courts