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Adam Smith and the Family


  • Sebastiano Nerozzi

    (University of Palermo, Dipartimento di Studi su Politica, Diritto e Società)

  • Pierluigi Nuti


This paper examines Adam Smith’s vision of family life and the role of the family in society as it stems from the Theory of Moral Sentiments. We first discuss textual evidences of Smith’s vision of gender differences and of the relationships between the sexes. Then we turn to TMS’s analysis of marriage and family life, exploring the importance of sentiments in strengthening family bonds and in fostering individuals’ moral education. Then we enlarge our perspective, considering Smith’s view on the role of the family within society, especially as market and non market relationships are concerned. Finally, we focus on Smith’s vision of the possible threats which life in Commercial societies may impose to family life, loosening parental ties and weakening those fellow-feelings which, according to Smith, play a paramount role in the moral education and proper behaviour of individuals in a free society. On the whole this paper acts as a first step in a wider project which includes the Wealth of Nations and focuses especially on economic issues regarding family life.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastiano Nerozzi & Pierluigi Nuti, 2008. "Adam Smith and the Family," Working Papers - Economics wp2008_04, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
  • Handle: RePEc:frz:wpaper:wp2008_04

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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Giordano, 2013. "Free Labour, Free Women. Re-appraising Harriet Taylor?s Feminist Economics," HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT AND POLICY, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2013(2), pages 45-62.
    2. Kristen R. Collins, 2020. "Observed without Sympathy: Adam Smith on Inequality and Spectatorship," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 64(4), pages 1034-1046, October.

    More about this item


    Adam Smith; Moral Philosophy; Family; Gender; Education.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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