Fifty years ago, the phrase "family policy" was rarely heard in America. Individual states maintained laws governing marriage, divorce, education, inheritance, and child protection, which regulated the formation, childrearing practices, and dissolution of families. However, these scattered policy issues were not seen as closely related. Until the 1960s, the nuclear family was an institution that was part of the natural life-course expected of most adults. Family meant marriage, children, the establishment of a home, care of the elderly, but perhaps most of all, bonding of the generations.
As early as the 1840s, certain elements of states' policies hinted at a weakening family structure, but not until the 1960s was the family openly attacked. Feminists objected to a male-oriented home economy, demographers encouraged negative population growth, the sexual revolution was on the rise, and religiously grounded morality in public life was challenged in the federal courts. Married couples with children had to shoulder a larger tax burden, further discouraging people from building and maintaining families. Perhaps because family was so central to the founders' lives they found no need to mention it in the Constitution. But today, generational bonds have fractured, while family policy is a paramount public concern.
As Allan Carlson makes clear no nation can progress, or even survive, without a durable family system. Contemporary family policy represents an attempt to counter the negative forces of the last four decades so as to restore the natural family to its necessary place in American life. Fractured Generations' chapters follow the life-course of the human family--marriage; the birth of children; infant and toddler care; schooling; building a home; crafting a durable family economy; and elder care. This is a passionate and well-reasoned appeal for a return to the institution that is the last best hope for America's future: the family.
"No social institution is more vital to the perpetuation of civilized life than the family. Yet few institutions have suffered more from the relentless incursions of modernity than the family. And no field of contemporary scholarship has been more politicized and debased than the study of the family. These three facts, taken together, explain why Allan Carlson's humane voice, and his contribution to our national life, is so rare and so valuable. He is our most persuasive advocate for the natural family, one of the few scholars willing to approach the subject with an unapologetically normative view. For him, the family is rightly regarded as the nexus of the profoundest of human experiences: marriage, sexuality, procreation, childrearing, home life, home economics, and the care of the elderly. Fractured Generations is not only a succinct defense of that view, but a meaty compilation of particular policy initiatives that can begin to restore the strength and dignity of the natural family and give it the tools to defend itself. It should be read by everyone who cares about the future of the family."-Wilfred M. McClay, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
"A welcome and provocative book of thoughtfully revisionist history and wise prescriptions by an honest, learned man of the Midwest, Fractured Generations points the way to a family policy rooted in healthy tradition, American liberty, and human-scale community."Bill Kauffman, author of Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette
"Fractured Generations is an insightful and provocative account of the history and future of family policy in the United States. Written by one of the wisest observers of the family in America, this book offers timely analyses of topics such as social security, income tax policy, and family planning. This book is required reading for academics, journalists, and policymakers interested in the family."-W. Bradford Wilcox, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia and author of Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands
"Allan Carlson is the best writer and thinker on family and society. His essays are always a 'must read' for anyone concerned about the family, be they liberal (to know the strength of their opposition) or conservative (to be led deeper and deeper in an always enjoyable way). With the years his already vast knowledge increases and his insights become more and more unassailable. In Fractured Generations he continues and refines his work - his tradition, and concludes with a list of public policy proposals that every Congressman and Senator should have in pocket-card form next to his (or her) heart." -Patrick F Fagan, The Heritage Foundation
"Allan Carlson is an economist deeply immersed in the complexities of social history and public policy. Agree or disagree, his work always provokes and illumines. His recommendations for family-friendly social policy are stated clearly and defended vigorously. Anyone with an interest in marriage, families, and public policy will find Carlson's latest worthy of careful consideration. Let the debate begin!" -Jean Bethke Elshtain, author of Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy.
Allan Carlson is president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society in Rockford, Illinois, and distinguished fellow in family policy studies at Family Research Council. He is the author of The Swedish Experiment in Family Politics, Family Questions, and The Family in America, all available from Transaction.