Security-demand Overload

This 2006 American Prospect piece by Garance Franke-Ruta proposes that some people who are activated by “traditional values” politics are receptive to such politics because those traditional values are unobtained aspirations for them (not because they’re defending their lifestyle).

I missed this when it came out a few years ago. It’s framed as a strategy consideration for Democrats. I don’t know what they did with it, if anything. Obviously nothing creative (OK they got into the Presidency. Good for you, Rahm Emanuel).

History of families researcher Stephanie Koontz’s sociological (as opposed to F-R’s Dem strategy) take on Aspirational Traditional Values is that where people (eg. Anglo-American societies) have a culture that does not legitimize obligation and security in the labour market, people tend to rely on and demand excessive obligation and security from the institution of individual nuclear families.

According to Koontz, this creates the American family “churn” effect–instability in family relationships rooted in security-demand overload. (In this blog, I’ve previously suggested such a demand-overload churn plagues the institution of American education.) See here for the 2010 Henwood radio interview in which Koontz discusses this issue and debunks myths about contemporary families. (The interview with Koontz is a little more than halfway through the on-line radio show, after the interview with labour historian Dan La Botz.)

For more families research, see the Council on Contemporary Families’ website.

The American marriage churn is discussed by Andrew Cherlin in his 2009 book “The Marriage Go Round.” There he shows that Americans hold contradictory values with regard to marriage sanctity on one hand and extreme individualism on the other. He argues that these very contradictory values result in irrational and harmful family practices–result in imploding relationships, the marriage churn. Capitalism downloads contradiction and conflict into the little institution of the nuclear family, the very institution that is supposed to be sanctified.

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