Modern America is in a situation of global transformation in all spheres of life. This is most clearly manifested in the radical change in traditional family values and marriage, which leads to the erosion of semantic values of the American mentality, the historical model of social change in the institution of family and marriage. “There is evidence, however, that the structure of social relationships in the United States has shifted in recent decades” (McPherson et al., 354). This paper discusses how television broadcasts family values and patterns in American society during a few decades.
In the 1950ies American family presented a complete dominance of familism values. The legitimacy of large families included approval of having more than five children, without artificial fertility and birth control restrictions. The marriage was performed by the will of the parents, and under pressure from public opinion, having children out of wedlock was not socially acceptable (Zinn 69). Celibacy was not normative condemned as a form of social behavior. Married couples with no children suffered psychologically from their social inferiority and had a low rank social status. The main criteria for the choice of a marriage partner were socio-economic or prestige for some layers and strata. Television replicates patterns and behaviors of people so changes in culture and in society as a whole are reflected in television production. However, the variety of forms of modern television technology and complicates the process of perception of the information received the audience.
The Leave It to Beaver presented the nuclear family consisting of the parents and their minor (material dependent) children tend to have a separate housing from other relatives and the family usually leads an independent economic existence, which is provided primarily by the father. In most cases, these revenues are the result of his professional activity. Love, marriage, family, motherhood occupied the highest rung in the hierarchy of women's values for American television at the time. It is fully consistent with the traditional foundations of patriarchal society. Television purposefully and consistently implement appropriate settings in the mass consciousness, and some claim to women's emancipation is not taken seriously as it is shown in All My Children.
In the 1960-ies the professional structure of society developed and acquired new functions that previously belonged to the traditional nature of a structural unit. In this type of society the relationship between the family and the professional world were based on the fact that the same people are members of the nuclear family work and have jobs. Previously, there was a family on her husband's salary and provided to him the greatest comfort and leisure facilities, now a husband and wife both make a career and earn their existence, so the comfort and convenience of a marriage or domestic responsibilities now also shared between husband and wife more evenly. Another important point relates to the fact that the primary duty material support to the nuclear family is one of its members - adult men. It was he who plays "the role of the border", taking up a position in the professional world, and in the family. On the television position of business woman was not accepted. Professional activities of the women were determined primarily by the scene: an office, studio pavilion stage scaffolding, shop or clinic. If the working character, whoever she was, in the final picture married, it is assumed that further her life entirely filled with household joys and cares. Moreover, cinema warned on the difficulties lying in wait for women who try to combine a business career with family life.
In the 1970s, feminism has experienced a real boom in the United States and became an influential factor in social life. Television despite strong conservative and protective tradition could not fail to respond to shifts in public opinion and tried to reflect these processes. Equality for women is among other things the acquisition of influential positions in all spheres of public life. Since the child-rearing process requires a lot of time and energy, the more the woman involved in this process, the harder it is for her to get a good education and to succeed in a career. Social traditions did not contribute to the fact that the man was actively involved in the education of children but now the woman is free to make decisions about whether or not to have children and when. The deprivation of the individual to freely decide whether to have children implied invasion of privacy and violation of the principle of respect for persons. However “economic deprivation and the stress associated with recent family disruption account for nearly all the negative effects of family structure on offsprings” (McLanahan 873). Small (consisting of two generations) family with other micro-structural social institutions (the relationship with the neighbors) were weakened. The family becomes more intimate form. Growing intra-tolerance, approved by intra-egalitarianism (especially the relationship of husband and wife) with much greater sensitivity and ideological differences between the generations. Significantly reduced the role of the institutional aspect of family life.
The manifestation of personal characteristics in the family is more important than adapting to the norms and role-playing features of family members. Roles and rules are not so strict and clearly defined as in the traditional family. Almost disappearing distance between husband and wife is considerably reduced and the distance between parents and children. For children, especially the older, more and more are in a comradely way, as colleagues. The male and female "worlds" in the family, more unified. Significantly changing a ranking non-instrumental factors more in the family comes to the fore the emotional factor. Personal relationships take precedence over real relationships.
The transformation of the institution of family reaches its climax in all aspects of the functioning of basic social institution. The system of values there is a complete dominance of individualism. family values go into a retrospective and cease to be conventional norms. The importance and autonomy of the individual is determined her choices and social activities at the institute of family. Now “people express similar high expectations: they want committed, enduring, and egalitarian partnerships that can help them fulfill their dual-centric (career and family) lifestyle” (Gerson 3). Public opinion has not condemned the mass voluntary childlessness. In most couples do not have children in need. An alternative to marriage and family becomes a rejection of marriage, same-sex unions and voluntary solitude (Dickson 475). Sexual behavior is not associated with the marriage, reproductive and parental behavior. There is complete freedom to choose between marriage and celibacy in the regulation of sexual relations. Divorce is no longer perceived as a social wreck and unmotivated happens at the request of one of the spouses as a legitimate right of the individual. The system of family structures dominated by full functional nuclearization, with the termination of a single activities. Since the late 1970s, the American family problems, the position of women in society, women's emancipation and development of women's self-awareness are starting to attract more and more attention of American filmmakers. And if at first this theme was the prerogative of the author's filmmaking, which provide a breakthrough in lighting "women's issue" on the silver screen, it gradually took over its development and genre-oriented mass cinema audience. And thanks to him, in the 1980s, the female theme occupied a leading position in the American television.
Thus, the actual problems began to be used not so much in the social and political, as for commercial purposes. Bet on it sensational, outrageous. It declares itself and the phenomenon of fashion. The above has a direct relation to the embodiment in the cinema feminist ideas and women's issues in general. It was displayed in the "Sex and the City" where women discuss sex, love openly and in great detail and others quite intimate things. In this series were presented fully mature women who are self-sufficient in their social status must have a husband and children as they choose an entirely different "family" - to each other, while not being a lesbian. The series is built on the principle of love story where the main character is not helpless young beautiful and mellow mature woman. The relationship between the heroines are more like family, especially since the real family relationships fade into the background, even those whom they appear, and parents in general virtually no mention of the series. At the same time between the heroines still there is some distance greater than in a happy family.
The modern American family is developing in a post-industrial information society, where the rapidly growing role of information technology and the media. The media more and more impact on the social, cultural development of the individual, as well as on the process of socialization, continuity of spiritual values and traditions. Beliefs human position, his ability, and the more prepared for social activity is increasingly shaped by the rapidly changing information flows. The processes of modernization of the United States and has affected, in particular, and for the modernization of the institution of family. Overcoming discrimination and exploitation of women professional space, where there is always dominated or completely occupied by his men found a convincing reflection on television.
Modern TV is working women who are unmarried, and even if they are married, have children (or their children have grown up). Most married women with young children are still housewives. And even if they work, they basically do the work of this kind, which is not comparable in status and income status and income, which provides work of their husbands. For the modern period is characterized by the crisis of the American gender system, which manifested itself in particular in the discourse about the crisis and the crisis of masculinity combining the roles of women. “Work–family policy strategies reflect gendered assumptions about the roles of men and women within families and therefore may lead to significantly different outcomes, particularly for families headed by single mothers” (Misra 804). Traditional role when a woman led household, raising children, and her husband was the owner of the property and provided economic independence of the family have changed. Over time, the practical results of gaining new demographic and social freedom became more clearly, thanks to radically changed situation of men, women and children. There are new opportunities for self-realization of the person in the family, professional and personal lives. The dissolution of the family, individually, of course, due to the weakening of the historical role of family mediation between society and the individual. It fits into the framework of a theoretical model of the increasing autonomy of man against nature and society.
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Gerson, Kathleen. The unfinished revolution: How a new generation is reshaping family, work, and gender in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
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McLanahan, Sara. "Family structure and the reproduction of poverty." American journal of Sociology (1985): 873-901. Print.
Misra, Joya, Stephanie Moller, and Michelle J. Budig. "Work—Family Policies and Poverty for Partnered and Single Women in Europe and North America." Gender & Society 21.6 (2007): 804-827. Print.
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