Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1694746
 
 

Footnotes (321)



 


 



Familial Norms and Normality


Clare Huntington


Fordham University School of Law

October 19, 2010

Emory Law Journal, Vol. 59, No. 1103, 2010
U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-26

Abstract:     
Social norms exert a powerful influence on families. They shape major life decisions, such as whether to marry and how many children to have, as well as everyday decisions, such as how to discipline children and divide household labor. Emotion is a defining feature of these familial social norms, giving force and content to norms in contexts as varied as reproductive choice, parenting, and same-sex relationships. These emotion-laden norms do not stand apart from the law. Falling along a continuum of involvement that ranges from direct regulation to choice architecture, state sway over social norms through their emotional valence is an under-recognized aspect of the family-state relationship.

Although scholars have explored aspects of familial social norms, current accounts offer an incomplete picture of both families and family law because they insufficiently account for the elemental relationship between social norms, emotion, and the state. By exploring the confluence of these forces, this Article makes two contributions to the literature. Descriptively, this Article identifies the centrality of emotion in creating and defining familial social norms. First, emotion is often the content of a familial social norm; therefore it is impossible to understand the norm without understanding emotion. Second, emotions can trigger social norms, with particular emotions leading to changes in behavior. Third, familial social norms carry tremendous emotional weight, which explains why the cost of noncompliance can be particularly high in the family context. Finally, the emotion-laden nature of familial social norms complicates any predictive enterprise for law and policy.

Normatively, a more complete understanding of the operation of familial social norms allows for more effective regulation of families. The state should recognize that emotion is a powerful point of entry when it seeks to influence norms and shape behavior. There are risks to this influence, but exposing the uncomfortable reality that the law often tries to manipulate our affective lives creates an opportunity to use this dynamic for more appealing ends, such as cultivating greater tolerance for parental conduct that falls outside dominant norms.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 89

Keywords: social norms, family law, emotion

JEL Classification: K30

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: October 21, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Huntington, Clare, Familial Norms and Normality (October 19, 2010). Emory Law Journal, Vol. 59, No. 1103, 2010; U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-26. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1694746

Contact Information

Clare Huntington (Contact Author)
Fordham University School of Law ( email )
140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
212-636-6195 (Phone)
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 554
Downloads: 89
Download Rank: 171,307
Footnotes:  321
Paper comments
No comments have been made on this paper

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo8 in 0.250 seconds