The New Western Family
A white picket fence surrounding a red-brick house in which a doting wife, successful and hard-working husband, and two and one half children reside was, at one point in time, the epitome of North American life. Since the era of that belief has passed, North American society is being affected by various factors that act as catalysts for the fall of the American Dream and the subsequent rise in the embodiment of increasingly different family structures. Modern North American culture prides itself in its inclusiveness and adaptability, yet it is prepared to accept that the definition of a family is no longer one of concrete wording? According the Andrew Cherlin, “Marriage has undergone a process of deinstitutionalization—a weakening of the social norms that define partners’ behaviour—over the past few decades (2004: 848). Studies in divorce, cohabitation, remarriage, and the legalization of gay and lesbian unions have proven that the nuclear family no longer consists of a man, woman, and a reasonable number of children. This literature review not only explores and distinguishes various factors discussed in pieces of work that influence North American society to embrace demographically diverse structures both also discusses the potential for a future resurfacing of the American Dream.
Divorce and the Nuclear Family
A nuclear family is commonly defined as a father, mother, and dependent children. This definition is being deconstructed by many factors, primarily through divorce. The introduction of no-fault unilateral divorce laws in North America forms the query of whether divorce rates were affected or not. According to Justin Wolfers (2006:1806), author of ‘Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results’, both types of divorce, consensual and otherwise, form a particular number of divorces each year. These subcategories of divorce, however, do not comprise
References: Bala, Nicholas., and Rebecca Jaremko Bromwich. 2002. “Context and Inclusivity in Canada’s Evolving Definition of the Family.” International Journal of Law, Policy, and the Family 16(2):148 Buzar, Stefan, Philip E. Ogden, and Ray Hall. 2005. “Households matter: the quiet demography of urban transformation.” Progress in Human Geography 29(4): 416. Cherlin, Andrew J. 2005. “American Marriage in the Early Twenty-First Century.” The Future of Children 15(2):33-55 Cherlin, Andrew J Cherlin, Andrew J. 2010. “Demographic Trends in the United States: A Review of Research in the 2000s.” Journal of Marriage and Family 72(3):409 Godina, E Lynch, Jean. 2000. “Considerations of Family Structure and Gender Composition: The Lesbian and Gay Stepfamily.” Journal of Homosexuality 40(2):81-95 Rasul, Imran Wolfers, Justin. 2006. “Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results.” The American Economic Review 96(5):1806, 1814.