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Unformatted text preview: THE WAY WE NEVER WERE: Stephanie Coontz AMERICAN FAMILIES IN THE 1950S- Our idea of the 1950s family very much comes from the 1950sitcoms still on TV today.- Fewer than 10% of families = Leave it to Beaver or Ozzie and Harriet model.- Coontz argues that why if it now agreed that non-traditional families make up the majority of families today, why is the traditional family studied? Reasons: 1. Liberals wants to prove that it is on the road to extinction to introduce new ideas of the family. 2. Conservatives want to prove the traditional family is alive and well to revive the placidity of the 1950s.- At first glance observable figures of the 1950s were: divorce rates were lower (1/2 of today), marriage was universally praised, family= most important institution in society, baby boom, America as a child- centered society, birth rates increased.- 1950s seem a time of INNOCENCE and CONSENSUS. - 1954: Polio vaccine improved quality of life for children.- The pro-family figures were boosted by: 1. Increase in GNP. 2. Increase in income. - The number Single family owned houses increased, 85% of new homes were built in suburbs.- Many working-class moved into middle-class. (60% of pop. Labeled a middle class income)- For most Americans the NUCLEAR FAMILY is what benefited the most from this new prosperity. 1. For example, the biggest boom in consumer spending was in HOUSEHOLD goods. 2. Home and family were the wellsprings of their happiness and self esteem- The popular thought in this time was: The Family is the center of your living, If it isnt youve gone astray. THE NOVELTY OF THE 1950S FAMILY- The 1950s traditional family was a new phenomenon.- First time in more than 100 years in which: age of marrying and motherhood dropped, fertility increased, divorce declined, women/male equality in education fell sharply. - Before 1950s many extended families lived together. But, in 1950s young families were encouraged to live with their own single family (nuclear fam.) and move into the suburbs.- Families were completed by the late 20s and they lived experienced living together longer as a couple when kids left home. - VALUES OF the1950S: emphasis on whole world satisfaction; amusement and inventiveness had no precedents. - Women were make-work of homes: felt guilty when they did not do everything. Household work time increased in 1950s....
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course SOC 252 taught by Professor Blumberg during the Spring '08 term at UVA.
- Spring '08