During the twentieth century, scientific advances, especially in the field of reproductive technologies, have fundamentally altered ideas about parenting, the family and what it means to be human. In the 1980s, the family became a significant site of political conflict in the UK when family values were defended and so-called pretended families were condemned. New information technologies make it possible for online chat between friends who have never met. Changes in legislation have defined and protected the rights of the child and spectacular campaigns have developed for fathers’ rights. Meanwhile tracing your family history has become one of the most popular hobbies.

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