What are western family values

Family in the united states

Handbook of Family Sociology pp 91-122 | Cite as

Between the hegemony of the nuclear family and the change in family values
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Abstract

The prevailing understanding of families in the USA in the 21st century is characterized by an insistence on traditional forms (nuclear family, bi-generationality) and a pluralization of norms (gender roles, same-sex communities). The article approaches this supposed contradiction from a historical perspective and examines how the family was conceived as the “basis of society” throughout the 20th century. The first question asked is which definitions of “family” were discussed by American sociologists between 1900 and 2000. A second section describes the socio-historical development of the American family over the same period. A third chapter discusses the changes in family values ​​and gender norms since the second half of the 20th century, in particular by asking about the significance of the categories “race”, “class”, “gender”, sexuality and religion for the American family. Taken together, it can be seen that in the USA of the 20th century, phases of dynamization and pluralization of family values ​​and gender norms alternated with the demand for a return to the nuclear family and to traditional gender roles - depending on the respective political and moral climate and the speed of social change. The combination of waves of norm change with phases of backward-looking self-assurance appears to be typical for the adaptation of a society and its values ​​to the challenges of industrial modernity.

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