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Rampant nostalgia for the modern family system, or more precisely, for an idealized version of a 1950s Ozzie and Harriet image of the family, has become an increasingly potent ideological force in the United States, with milder versions evident in Canada and England. Fundamentalist Christians and right-wing Republicans spearheaded the profamily movement that abetted the Reagan "revolution" of the 1980s. By the 1994 electoral season, however, even President Clinton had embraced the ideology of an explicitly centrist campaign for family values led by a small group of social scientists. This ongoing campaign portrays family breakdown as the primary source of social malaise in the United States, blaming the decline of the married-couple family for everything from crime, violence, and declining educational standards to poverty, drug abuse, and sexually transmitted disease.

JUDITH STACEY, In the Name of the Family

The family indeed is dead, if what we mean by it is the modern family system in which units comprised of male breadwinner and female homemaker, married couples, and their offspring dominate the land. But its ghost, the ideology of the family, survives to haunt the consciousness of all those who refuse to confront it. It is time to perform a social autopsy on the corpse of the modern family system so that we may try to lay its troublesome spirit to rest.

JUDITH STACEY, In the Name of the Family


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