Mind and Society 20 (1):41-58 (2021)

Chien-Ling Liu
University of California, Los Angeles
The sexual revolution that took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s is one of the most profound social changes during the second half of the twentieth century in America. Before the revolution, there existed a norm proscribing premarital sex ; premarital sex was not accepted. After the sexual revolution, the PS norm no longer existed; premarital sex became accepted. In the literature on how premarital sex became accepted, little attention is given to the institutional change that transpired—the collapse of a sexual norm. This study specifies one micro-mechanism of this social change. Specifically, adopting methodological individualism and the prisoner's dilemma game, I develop a theory that explains how a technological innovation for contraception triggered a change in individuals' perception of premarital sex, which led to their behavioral change. As a result, premarital sex became accepted, and the norm proscribing premarital sex collapsed. I use General Social Survey data to test the hypothesized micro-mechanism of the institutional change. The empirical analysis supports the hypothesis derived from the theory. Based on the above analyses, I discuss two alternative explanations and the issue of teenage pregnancy.
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DOI 10.1007/s11299-020-00269-7
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References found in this work BETA

A Treatise on the Family.Gary S. Becker - 1983 - Ethics 94 (1):152-153.
The Emergence of Norms.Edna Ullmann-Margalit - 1977 - Oxford University Press.
Sex and Reason.Richard A. Posner - 1995 - Ethics 105 (3):670-672.

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