Document Type

Symposium Article

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The word "legalization" has conflicting meanings. One, intended to sound the theme of this conference, conveys the notion of government regulation permeating some area of human activity. The other-as found, for example, in the phrase "the legalization of marijuana"-is a near opposite: the process of making legal or permissible that which. was previously forbidden, taking government out of that which it had previously controlled. The recent history of government's relationship to the family amply displays both sorts of legalization, both government's intrusion and its withdrawal, and reveals a paradoxical relation between the two-that as government frees people to live their family lives as they choose, people feel no more free, in part because much government involvement is required to facilitate the new freedom.