Family And Society


Family And Society Essay, Research Paper

Reaction Paper on Family and Society


Whitehead, Barbara D. “The new family values.” In Sociology 95/96. Edited by Kurt Finsterbusch. Connecticut: Dushkin Publishing, 1995, 74-77.

The article “The new family values,” written by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, deals simply with the changes and structures of different family values. Since the 1980’s, a new set of family values is emerging. There are many changes that are occurring in the ‘family value system.’ For example, the term ‘yuppie’ is slowing being removed from our vocabulary. One change is that the divorce rate has leveled out quite a bit. Another change that has occurred is that the reproduction of babies has decreased a bit. Another change that is a pretty large change in family values is the responsibility of children. These are all prime examples of a change in family values in our society.

Since family values are changing, the actual family structure is becoming weak due to the many modifications in the family value system. Many Americans are changing their minds more frequently about many different topics. One topic is they change their minds about staying married for the physical and mental state of the children; about the necessity of putting children’s needs before their own; about what it means to be pregnant and unmarried. Just to add to that list, many men in this country are changing their minds about their obligations to being a father or husband.

In the past fifty years, three distinctive cultural periods have been broken up to show the slow change in family values. First is the traditional familism period. This deals mostly from the 1940s to the mid-1960s. “Demographically, this period of family life was characterized by the overwhelming dominance of married couples with children by high birth rates, low divorce rates, and a high degree of martial stability” (pg.75). In this period, women were not much of a factor in the decision making process. Basically, the man wore the ‘pants in the relationship.’ Another characteristic from that cultural period is that the male, normally, would not retire but would stay in the workplace to support his family.

The second cultural period was called the period of individualism, which was based from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. This period was devastated by the decline in birth rates, the rise in divorce rates, the emerging of the singles’ lifestyle, and the rise in individual career and work life from both sexes.

The third and final period was named the new familism, which is simply based from the mid-1980s to the present time. This period deals with the emergence of the independent woman, and the rise in the birth rate.

Nowadays, I am beginning to see the changes in family values in society. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s article describes the major changes in the family value system in the past couple of decades. This article was well written and pointed out some very important issues that deal with family values.

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