Cultural Conflict and the Revival of Class Warfare
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law
March, 11 2011
Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Vol. 16, 2010
This article maintains that the new dynamic driving the interaction of work and family is greater specialization in the activities performed by women. This greater specialization has dramatically increased the return for investment in college educated women entering the workforce to stay and dramatically increasing their earnings. These women hire other women to manage what once were all women’s domestic responsibilities. To take advantage of these expanded employment opportunities, college educated women have embraced a new set of moral understandings that replace sexual restraint with greater attention to readiness for childbearing. The average age of marriage has jumped, and with financial independence and emotional maturity, these women search longer for compatible and companionate mates. College-educated women, who were once the least likely group in society to marry, have become the only group whose marriage and income rates have increased — and the families they form are more stable than similar unions thirty years ago. These new terms for middle class life have, in turn, undermined what was once universal support for more traditional marriages. The article concludes that only with recognition of these dynamics can we hope to recreate shared understandings. One of the dramatic, and largely untold, stories of the last half century is the wholesale shift in resources away from children. As the economic advantages of the middle class have increased vis-à-vis the rest of the population, their relative fertility rates have fallen, and their investment in the children they do have has skyrocketed. The rest of the population has struggled to deal with the lack of support for satisfying traditional roles, new more egalitarian ones, or single parent family needs. The resulting "culture wars" stand in the way of more realistic efforts to reintegrate work and family.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43
Keywords: Family Organization, Women, Specialization, College Education, Family Roles, Culture Wars, Parenting, Children, Employment Opportunity, Traditional Marriage, Conflict, Independence, Maturity
JEL Classification: J11, J12, J13, J16, J18Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 11, 2011
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