The question of whether personal gratification is compatible with social good is one of the fundamental problems of motivation. The family, an institution that has undergone extraordinary change in the last generation, is perhaps the most profound context in which to consider this issue. This volume is tinged with prophetic concern about the state of contemporary family life and about the (un)likelihood of reconciling individual family members’ interests with those of the family as a whole.
The nine contributors’ backgrounds are diverse—anthropology, economics, law, and clinical, community, developmental, and social psychology—and their positions on the nature of motivation in families vary widely. Their views are often disquieting and sometimes conflicting as they offer provocative analyses of divorce, family violence, political transitions, and concerns of both Western and non-Western cultures.
Gary B. Melton is director of the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina and professor of law, neuropsychiatry, and psychology. His books include Adolescent Abortion: Psychological and Legal Issues (Nebraska 1986).