Family Values, Social Capital and Contradictions of American Modernity

Theory, Culture and Society 28 (4):96-123 (2011)

Contemporary American social and political discourses have integrated concerns about family values into the realm of debates about the associational life of social capital. In these discussions, theoretical and historical confusions about the relations between family and civil society run rampant. In this article, I first bring theoretical clarity to these social structures and the type of relations upon which they are predicated and, second, briefly historicize the relationships between an American idea of family and civil society. By tracing changes in popular understandings of family and civil society, I demonstrate that the modern family values movement spurns its Victorian roots by maintaining the nostalgic language for a life and family of old built around a Christian home, while embracing means and institutions, and even more importantly, a form of family, which belies the nostalgia. The family has now become an institution or association which can be sustained through instrumental interventions; it is no longer to do with the organic relations of sentiment remaining from some long-faded Gemeinschaft. The family and the Christian home ideal, which were at the center of American critiques of modernization, have ceased to be
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DOI 10.1177/0263276411404906
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Social Theory and Social Structure.Lawrence Haworth - 1961 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 11 (44):345-346.
The Arcades Project.Walter Benjamin, Howard Eiland & Kevin Mclaughlin - 2001 - Science and Society 65 (2):243-246.

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