The Family and the Western Political Order

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Jarvis, Douglas Edward




The family appears for many affluent urban individuals as a burden, while for those without affluence, it has become a welfare-based security net of survival. Given the newly emerging challenges of 'austerity' among post-industrial Nation-States facing general fertility decline, this paradigm will intensify with time. It is this factor, alongside various cultural issues, that has established the historical base of the current day Culture Wars over the family's continued relationship to the Western political order. This issue is best explored through three research questions
of "how did this condition came to be?"; "what the current reality is?"; and "what it means for the future?". As to question #1, due to modernity's greater urbanism and market-centered exchange system, the family household increasingly became a centre of 'private comfort' and 'marital affection'. This is in opposition to the historic 'public clan' status held by the family in pre-modern times, which also stood as the source of economic and political vitality. As the 20th century progressed, the integral lines between the public
and private became increasingly entwined in which public institutional rule became more focused on managing the social relations of the private realm. As this occurred, personal conditions of agents in the political community increasingly mobilized to culturally transform the political community according to 'private' desires. For question #2, the private sector has become more central in many individuals' pursuit of their increasingly consumerist values, in contrast to their civic and religious values in previous eras. Therefore, the family as an institution has become
apparently less culturally relevant for many. At the same time, cultural traditions in Western life have invigorated conservative movements in defense of the family. For question #3, the consumerist and service-intensive labor model of post-industrial society may hollow out the viability of the previously existing Welfare State for future generations, as it has done to the family on a mass scale over the last forty years. Therefore, future perspectives on family issues in the early 21st century are projected to center more on issues of personal need rather than lifestyle choice.


Political Science
Families - Political Aspects




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Science

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Theses and Dissertations

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