Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Response to Brooks

From Naomi Cahn (GW), writing for Forbes:

There is much to celebrate about today’s families, including the increasing rate of high school graduation, divorce rates that are decreasing, a rise in shared child care, and a family poverty rate that is less than half of what it was in 1959.

Yet 1959 is in the midst of the time that David Brooks celebrates as the best time for the nuclear family. 

In his March 2020 article in the Atlantic, Brooks examines the transition from a family form based on extended relationships to one that is smaller and less stable and worries about “the wreckage left behind by the collapse of the detached nuclear family.” (The term “nuclear family” was first used more than 100 years by Bronislaw Malinowski, at a time when nuclear referred to “kernel,” rather than atomic nuclei.)

Brooks ascribes the change in family structure to, in large part, cultural forces. He notes that the economy has played some role in this transformation, and, at the end of his article, he mentions the role of the state in supporting and affecting family structure.

The article has drawn much commentary from a variety of perspectives.

Read more here.

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