about this 'nuclear family' thingie

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Thu, 25 Apr 1996 01:32:19 CDT

When I was first introduced to the phrase "nuclear family," in Sociology
101, it was the late 1950s, and divorce was still "Deviance." Not as Serious
Deviance as it had been in the nineteenth century and up until World War One,
at least, but "Deviance," of a faint sort, anyway; consequently, not gender-
neutral deviance. That is, by prominently labelling a woman a "divorcee," one
was, in effect, calling her a Publicly Notorious Slut. (That Adlai E.
Stevenson was a divorced man was something Whispered About during his
presidential campaigns; but on the other hand, women's running for office
was still nearly Unthinkable, except for Sen Margaret Chase Smith of Maine.)

Today, the divorce rate is about 50% for all couples starting out in
marriage. This represents a change in the normative pattern. In sociogibberish,
family structure is an Institution, which has long been defined as a pattern.
By definition, there is no such thing as a pattern wherein a major behavioural
rule is violated half the time. The pattern has therefore changed, so if the
nuclear family existed in the late 1950s, something Else exists now. Yet the
term "nuclear family" remains in lusty, vigorous use. So much for the *etic*

*Emically*, there has arisen a difference between Getting Married and
Getting Married For The First Time. Which remains a change even if it is
not subjectively apparent until acted upon. For instance, I believed that
marriage was a Permanent Commitment, and all my ex-wives (2) believed the
same thing; but there came a time when this one little exception had to be
made, for everyone concerned.

So, when/what is the "nuclear family"?

Daniel A. Foss
<nouveau reactionary traditionalist>