Family, Culture, and the Future of Society (Family part 1)

December 2010: Featured Post

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Nuclear Family

Nuclear Family

The social relationships of humans are imperative to the structure of civilizations and its governance.  By exploring the relational structure of “family” we can gather a great understanding of how dynamic relational structures in family evolved over time.  For centuries the “family institution” has been noted for is sustainability, organizational structure, and its social influence amongst other cultural groupings.  Exploring the American “nuclear family,” and how its evolved, can assist how we understand the family of today’s post modern era and the family of tomorrow’s pseudo-modern era.

The term “nuclear family” dates back to 1947 according to Merriam Webster [1]. It’s a term used in our modern society to describe the very structure of a family (which has been around for thousands of years).  This term is also used to distinguish the household of a traditional family consisting of a father, mother, and children living in the same home.

The American “nuclear family” is traditionally noted for its consanguinity, affinity, and co-residence. A traditional family is usually defined as an organization that’s socially structure for blood-related relatives and is also the primary institution for children.  The “family institution” will be a child’s first social interaction between people, community, and culture.  We naturally form our understanding about traditions, morals, honor, and principles from our personal “family units.”  It’s generally understood that the traditional family structure is the “de facto” of how people organize and arrange other successful structures in the American culture such as businesses, companies, corporations, and organizations.

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter

This traditional structure of family in America was challenged, and potentially changed, by the advent of World War II (WWII).  Aside from the economic challenges and depravity of American’s, because of this war, WWII participated in changing the gender roles in the American culture.  For the first time in this country’s modern era, women were assigned the same labor intensive work that men were assigned to after the men began leaving for war.  “The CIO unions were progressive in dealing with gender discrimination in wartime industry, which now employed many more women workers in nontraditional jobs. Unions that had represented large numbers of women workers before the war, such as the UE and the Food and Tobacco Workers, had fairly good records of fighting discrimination against women. Most union leaders saw women as temporary wartime replacements for the men in the armed forces. It was important that the wages of these women be kept high so that the veterans would get high wages.”[2] This country’s history shows the first instance in which women workers were justified doing the jobs of men.  This would change the fabric of family in America; furthermore, it would add strain that was appended to the traditional family structure and began to erode the principles, morals, and culture of the family “American-modeled’ institution.

“World War II subjected the nation’s families to severe strain. During the war, one-sixth of the nation’s families suffered prolonged separation from sons or fathers. Five million “war widows” had to cook, clean, launder, and care for children alone. Wartime migration added to familial strain, as more than fifteen million civilians moved in search of new jobs. Wartime families faced a severe shortage of adequate housing and a lack of child-care facilities. These stresses contributed to a dramatic upsurge in the postwar divorce rate and to severe problems of child welfare, including tens of thousands of unsupervised “latchkey” children and high rates of juvenile delinquency, venereal disease, and truancy.” [3]

It wasn’t until after WWII that Americans would try to re-establish the nuclear family model.  After WWII there was a economic serge that assisted in producing what we culturally called the “baby boomer” generation (1943 – 1960).  Though this resurgence of the economy influenced the baby boomer generation it wouldn’t be enough to re-establish the “nuclear family” model that help establish the American society.  After WWII the “baseline” family model would be changed in America to include the extended family (grandparents, uncles, nephews, cousins).  Currently, in our post modern society, we support roughly nine other dynamic family structures ranging from single parents to adoption.

During the 1970’s, non-nuclear family households increased 73 percent while nuclear family households increased only 13 percent (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1980).   This shows evidence of the changes that the American family model made from the “baby boomer” generation (1943 – 1960) to the current “baby buster” generation (1965-1976).  These changes would later influence and give birth to what we know today as individualism.

“With these changes have come substantial changes in attitudes toward family life. For example, recent surveys show increasing acceptance of divorce, permanent singleness and childlessness (Thornton and Freedman, 1982). Changes in attitudes are normally explained by changes in the social structure. However, it is also possible that these effects are reinforced for individuals by their own experiences, causing further shifts in their family-related attitudes and behavior” [4]



The centrality of family has drastically changed from what used to be a societal norm.  These changes have affected gender roles, sex, individual lifestyles, and morals in American culture.  Individualism is primarily the model that our society currently uses to correlate our unique identities to a principle, or ethics, which, we suspect, should sustain relational integrity of our society.  Essentially individualism is the idea that people’s “individual” morals can generate empirical values that should be shared (or tolerated) in the same society.  This is the ideal that will that incubate the very future of the family model.  The questions that may arise are “what could the future family possible look like?” or “How can the future of family be observed?”

British scholar Dr. Alan Kirby has formulated a term that named the era that succeeds the post modern era called “pseudo-modernism.” Pseudo-Modernism is a term to describe a superficial age where technology like the internet, mass media, and interactive television tries to give meaning and definitions towards something that “substance-less.”

Pseudo-modernism’s “typical intellectual states” are furthermore described as being “ignorance, fanaticism and anxiety” and it is said to produce a “trance-like state” in those participating in it. The net result of this media-induced shallowness and instantaneous participation in trivial events is a “silent autism” superseding “the neurosis of modernism and the narcissism of postmodernism.“ Kirby sees no aesthetically valuable works coming out of “pseudo-modernism.” [5]

The future uncertainty is usually a catalyst for reform.  There’s a good chance that the future of the family (no matter its dynamic) will be a reformed version of the “nuclear family.”  This newly formed model of the future family will influence society (just like the family models of the past).  In the culture of this new family model it’s likely not to be language, or ethnic, specific but will have more of a global construct that will enable new global communities across continents worldwide.

Is there a difference between “BLOOD relative” and FRIEND ?

What is the FUTURE of the American Family?

Is having a “Family” crucial to your FAITH?

[1]  “Nuclear family.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010. Merriam-Webster Online. 25 Sept. 2010

[2]  “United States home front during World War II” Wikipedia. 2010. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. . 25 Sept 2010 < >

[3]  “Family Structures,” Encyclopedia of American Social History. 3 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, Reproduced in the History Resource Center, Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. Archived at: Document No. BT2313027032 (1993)

[4]  Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults Linda J. Waite, Frances Kobrin Goldscheider, Christina Witsberger, American Sociological Review Vol. 51, No. 4 (Aug., 1986), pp. 541-554 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL:

[5] “Post-postmodernism” Wikipedia. 2010. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. . 25 Sept 2010 < >

Dwayne Ghant is a Sr. Software developer at Temple University, who has been doing software development for the past 12 years.  My career has very little to do with who I am internally; that’s the part of me that always evolving.  And yes, I’m a Christian who fervently loves our Father through Jesus Christ.  I am also the co-founder of  As our culture continues to evolve, ever so rapidly, there has to be a united expression or an organization that is willing to capture the essence of post-modern Christendom – and write about it!  It is our intention to write about a myriad of issues pertaining to ethics, culture, society, and religion.  We won’t always focus on “Christianity”; instead we will focus on how to observe things through the wisdom of God!  Enough about me.  We really hope you enjoy our blogs.

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  • Larryboyd96

    Since the beginning at creation the family has been used by God to represent his loving kindness and support. I agree that the family is changing but a truly successful community begins with a father, mother, and children. The success of our nation depends on these small group being unified by residence but more importantly by spirit, thought, and action.

    • Dghant1024

      Hey Larry,

      Thanks for the comment. What if the identity of family in America changes …. would you be willing to accept that new identity?

  • Jacqueline

    Inspite of the fact that the family dynamic has changed over the years,God and his intent from the begining of creation has not changed. God created Adam and Eve. They had children and theit children's children had children. Family is family. Man has changed and has defined life the way He sees it.

    • Dghant1024

      Thanks Jacqueline…

      I agree with you about “how things should be on this earth” and how God originally intended them to be, but it can be argued that nothing on this planet is what God has intended it to be. How do you (or we), as Christians, balance the demands of this world with God's WILL in our HEARTS?

      Thanks again this was a good post.

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