The decline of the American family (1960-1990) : A review and evaluation

problem of the decline of the family in America is still the subject of debate in academic circles.The authors recently published publications adhere to the usual position for many: the decline of the family - the myth, the family just changed.

My opinion is exactly the opposite: I see it is the decline of the family and I think that it is time to sound the alarm, especially if you pay attention to the consequences for the children.In today's debate is often overlooked that the recent decline of the family - a completely new phenomenon - an extraordinary and extremely serious.At the beginning of the XX century.widespread was the belief that the reproductive function of the family has reached its full implementation and will mark the character of this AD.For example, the famous Swedish feminist Ellen Key published a book "Century Child", which claimed that in the XX century.will focus on children's rights and, most importantly, on the right of the child to have a happy safe home and loving parents.The Am

erican historian Arthur B. Kelhoun addressed this topic in the first serious "American Family History," published in 1917-1919 gg."Overall, undeniable that America entered the" age of the child "... As it should be in a civilization with a great future, the child becomes the center of life."

By mid-century, more than in any other period of history, part of American children growing up in strong families with two parents.

But from the 1950s.the situation of children, moved to the periphery of national attention, it has deteriorated.Over the past 30 years with great speed we move away from that family and the culture that puts the child at the center of life.At the end of the XX century.it became clear that the early forecasters were far from the truth.

sudden and rapid change in the situation with regard to family and children, which began in the 1960s., Took many researchers by surprise.Currently, spending in the assessment of social impacts, scientists from different ideological directions see this change as an important and deep.According to liberal authors, with the 1960s.Americans are witnessing the serious problems affecting the very essence of forms, ideals and role expectations, which were inherent in the family over the last half century.They are echoed by conservative researchers: "Social commitment and principles guide the behavior of the American nation for centuries, they were driven to negligence, which is staggering."

How did the family in America has changed over the last 30 years?Below, I offer an answer to this question with the help of the latest statistics and recent opinion polls.These data correlate family situation in the late 1980s - early 1990s.the situation in the late 1950s - early 1960s.I say: the evidence suggests that in this period there was an unprecedented decline of the family as a social institution.Families have lost their function, social power and authority over its members.They are reduced in size, lose stability, the period of their existence declined.People have become less willing to invest time, money and energy in family life, preferring to spend it all on himself.Moreover, American society and culture has been weakened concentration of children and family.Decreased value of familism as a cultural value.

What exactly is the institutional essence of the family, which is in decline?Before answering this question, it is necessary to make a reservation.In recent years, the term "family" is used in such vague sense that an explanation of its use is of particular importance.Alas, but the term "family" has taken almost the opposite meaning.For example, according to some, the term "family" should apply not only to the traditional family, but also to the homosexual couple living together.Discussions about the nature of the family, and continues today in the classrooms, conferences and legislative institutions across the country.

family - it is something "good".The problem lies in the fact that we all want to be involved in this "good".That is why the concept of "family" turned into ponyatie- "sponge" with a variety of meanings: it can be applied to two friends who live together, to people working in the office, to the local mafia group and the family of all the human race.I want to limit the term of its most common meaning group home in which people usually live together in the house and act as a unified whole, which is manifested in the division of economic resources, and domestic activities.

As part of this value, I did not use the term "family" exclusively to parents and children.I define the family as a relatively small group of relatives home (or people who are in a relationship similar to a related), consisting of at least one adult member and one dependent.This definition is intended to intergenerational community that includes (or used to be included) children or adults with some disadvantage, patients, the elderly and other dependents.It is also intended for single-parent families, families of pivot, unregistered couples, homosexual unions and all other types of families, if they include dependents.

alleged definition is not universal and can not satisfy everyone.Undoubtedly, someone wants me to include a married couple with no dependents it.But it is important to distinguish between a intimate relationship between adults (their duration does not play a role) of the group, which arises when there are children or other dependents;This important point overlooked by researchers, defining the family as socially constructed relations.Conservatives will lament the fact that the focus is not the traditional nuclear family.Liberals would oppose ™ concentrated on determining the homegroup, arguing that the parents do not live together.And there is concern that the definition is not widely to include many family forms known in other cultures, for example consisting of several related groups living under one roof in a complicated household.However, if the determination is very wide, it will be less meaningful.HomeGroup family - that's what most people understand by the family.

HomeGroup relatives should be considered as a group that performs certain functions for society.These functions, such as chewed almost every textbook on marriage and family, include: the creation and socialization of children, providing family members work and attention, a division of economic resources, particularly shelter, food and clothing, sexual regulation.

If the institution of the family is in decline - this means that domestic related groups do not carry out those functions, which satisfy the needs of the relevant public.Consider changes in the American family over the past three decades.

number of children.Today, the family has fewer children than before, due to the fact that she appreciates the child and wants to do more for each child.But at a certain stage of fertility decline in the number of children it becomes a problem ..

Since the late 50-ies.the birth of children, the installation on the children quickly began to lose popularity.At the end of the 1950s.American had an average of 3.7 children in her life.Thirty years later, this figure has decreased almost by half: in 1990 the total fertility rate was 1.9 children, below the numbers required for the replacement of generations 2.1 and below regarding the low fertility levels observed in the first half of the century.

This change is due to a dramatic and perhaps historically unprecedented decline in positive feelings about parenthood.Between 1957 and 1976.the percentage of men considering fatherhood as the most important value was reduced from 58 to 44%, and perhaps today the percentage is even lower.Between 1970 and 1983.the proportion of women seeking "to be a mother and raise a family," declined from 53 to 26%.Less than two decades (from 1962 to 1980), the percentage of US mothers who claimed that "all couples should have children," fell by almost half - from 84 to 43%.

Because of such value orientations of children in the population has decreased: if in 1960, children under 18 accounted for more than one third of the population, the number is now reduced to one quarter.However, it can not give rise to concerns about the beginning of the depopulation in the Americas: the growth of our population is mainly due to immigration, and new immigrants are prone to larger number of children than the native population.However, the continuing decline in the number of children in the family and in the population structure is largely due to the lack of attention of our society to children and socio-cultural devaluation of children in the overall picture of life.

Married role.First, change the role of husband and wife, inherent in the traditional nuclear family.The cultural ideal - the separation of the spheres in which women are housewives, mothers, wives, and husbands - the breadwinners of the family - in fact, ended today.In 1960, 42% of all households had a single survivor.By 1988, that number dropped to 15%.According to recent research, 79% of American adults believe that "needs two salaries to support today the family."And only 27% would prefer to return to his family "with one parent, constantly dealing with children."In 1960, only 19% of married women (who had husbands) with children up to 6 years were occupied in whole or in part, or looking for work.By 1990, this figure was 59%.Overall, in 1990 the employment of women was 57% compared with 38% in 1960. (It should be noted that between 1960 and 1988. The proportion of men aged 65 years and older in the labor force decreased from 33 to 16%.aged 55-64 years - from 87 to 67%)

family structure and breakdown of the marriage..Our society, abandoning the role of his wife in a traditional nuclear family, undermines the basic core of the family - parents stay together for life.In other words, we not only reject the traditional family, and the family in general itself - is splashed with water, baby.While the two trends do not necessarily have a causal relationship, they have for some time been associated with each other.In 1960, 88% of children lived with two parents in 1989 - only 73%.In 1960, with two own parents in the first marriage, they lived 73% of all children, in 1990 - 56%.

type family, which replaced the traditional - it summarizes the family.In recent years, the rapidly growing number of single-parent families (nearly 90% of them are headed by women).In 1960, only 9% of all children lived with one parent.K1990, the number of children living with one parent, jumped to 24%.

One of the main factors responsible for the growing number of single-parent families, a growing number of divorces and the attitude toward divorce as an ordinary event.21. In 1960, the number of relationship, divorced and married was 35. By 1988 this had risen to 133.

Women -

August 1960 accounted for 9 divorces, in 1987 in the US by 1000 the existing marriagesprobability of divorce has increased from 20% in 1960 to 45% in 1980. Some researchers believe that the probability of the collapse of the first marriages today is 60%.

In 1900, only 2% of children living with a divorced parent and 3.4% with the parent, never married.In 1974, for the first time in American history, the number of marriages ending in divorce, exceeded the number of marriages ended by death of a spouse.According to the 1980's., Marriages disintegrated due to the death of a spouse, 22% of marriages broken by divorce.

Today, children - it is only unimportant deterrent divorce.

The proportion of people who do not agree with that, "when a family has children, parents should stay together even if they do not get" increased from 51 in 1962 to 82% in 1985

Another reason for growththe number of single-parent families - the growing number of non-marital births.In 1960, only 5% of all births accounted for unmarried mothers (22% black).In 1990, the figure was 24% (62% for blacks).This is the highest national level of illegitimate births ever recorded in the United States.Since children from broken families compared with children from strong families much more likely to create an unstable marriage, the future in this respect is not very encouraging.

Marriage.Widespread "leaving for later" marriage is another significant change in the modern family.With the average age at first marriage in 24.1 young women in 1991, married, being almost four- year older than his mother (the average age of first marriage in 1960 was 20.3).Thus, the proportion of women aged 20 to 24 years old, never been married, more than doubled between 1960 and 1990 - from 28.4 to 62.8%, and for women from 25 to 29 the growth is even higher - 105 to 31.1%.

expected to further decline in the number of marriages.One of the reasons for that - has changed significantly in the last decade related to the unmarried.In 1957, 80% of the population agreed with the statement: "If a woman gets married, it means sick, nevrotichka or immoral."By 1978, thought so 25% of the population.Nevertheless, part of the population that is going to marry, remains a significant - 90%.

But at the same time should take into account the changing nature of marriage.

Today, marriage is understood as a path to self-realization.Self-realization of one person requires the presence of the other, and marriage partner is chosen, mainly to be a personal companion.In other words, the marriage becomes deinstitualizirovannym.

life outside the family."Care" from marriage leads to the growth of an independent separate residence before marriage and in concubinage.A survey conducted in 1980 showed that 70% of high school students are planning to move out of the parental home before marriage.In 1950, only 17% of unmarried women over the age of 25 years led his own household, in 1980 - 60%.This trend continues and amplifies the unstable situation in the family during childhood.

Along with the high level of divorce and separate living elderly early departure from home is an important factor underlying the rapid increase in nonfamily households, and life in the family.Nonfamily households (households that contain them (her) living (s) alone or with one or more people with whom he (she) has no family relationship) accounted for 29% of all households in 1990, compared with 15% in 1960. About 85% of nonfamily households consist of only one person.

increased number of extramarital cohabitation (or unmarried couples of the opposite sex living together).In particular, the declining marriage rate is compensated increasing levels of concubinage.Unmarried couples make up a small part of all households (3.1% in 1990), but their number is growing.In 1990, the number of households of unmarried couples (2.856.000) increased in comparison with 1960.(439.000) 6 times.Since the late 60's.the number of first marriages, which was preceded by cohabitation increased from 8 to 50%.

Obviously, Non-FamilySafe household, as an alternative to family life, helps young people escape from it.Life before marriage away from home and change the setup value orientations of young people, especially women, are not in favor of the family.Nonfamily experience can make it difficult to shift from concentration on a their own affairs to the needs and wishes of other family members (especially children).Cohabitation is not very good the function of trial marriage or a system that is ready for a strong marriage through the "screening" of those who are in the process of cohabitation have found that they are not suited to each other.Most likely, the lack of commitment in nonmarried household leads to a lack of commitment to the marriage.

Family changes as families decline.Many researchers do not want to recognize that the family is in decline.They prefer to talk about "change", leading to "diversity."This may seem like a simple terminological subterfuge, but in fact leads to a serious terminological divergence.

problem is not only that the family as an institution is in decline, but also in the fact that a special form of family - the traditional nuclear family - is in decline.And therein lies the basis of ideological conflict.The hegemony of the traditional nuclear family in the 50-ies.It contributed to the emergence of the modern women's movement.Strongly opposing the long domination of men, as well as the elimination of the labor market women, the women's movement considered the traditional nuclear family in a very negative aspects.Today, most researchers, including myself, shared the views of the women's movement in favor of an equitable form of the family and the real economic independence for women.From this perspective, a departure from the traditional nuclear family is regarded as progress, rather than as a decline.First.