It's the same old story - whatever is predetermined is thought to be oppressive and in need of deconstructing.
I was reminded of this by an article in the Herald Sun on the way family has been taught here in Victoria. As long ago as the 1980s it was decided that it was better to leave the family only vaguely defined:
"What I've found is that in the 1970s and early-'80s, the curriculum authors tried to hang on to that very traditional notion of the nuclear family," Ms Farrelly said.
"By the time they got to the '80s, they conceded this wasn't going to wash, and they got quite anxious."
Instead of then exploring different types of family units, Ms Farrelly said the educators came up with really quite weird definitions such as "groups of people who share things".
"Then family just disappeared. The course (now) focuses very much on the individual," she said.
So there's another liberal definition of the family to add to the list: "groups of people who share things".
That's a bit like a recent definition of the family by the director of Family Relationship Services Australia who said,
The definition I like now is whoever you share your toothpaste with, that’s your family.
So is this vaguely defined family really going to catch on? Are we going to see all sorts of permutations and combinations of people choosing to share things together?
The indications right now are that that's not what's happening. If we take a look at Sweden, which has pioneered the changes to family life, something else is emerging:
What you can see is that 47% of Swedish households are comprised of only one person. That's such a striking statistic. Next highest is Norway on 40% and then Germany on 39%. The UK is 34% and the US is 27% (low compared to the Europeans, but in 1950 the figure for America was only 9%).
So liberalism is moving us not so much toward the new undefined family as toward solo living.