Topic: How the concept of the American family has evolved over time intro

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Paradigm Shift Essay: Outline
TOPIC: How the concept of the American family has evolved over time
INTRO: Definition of “traditional family”; ask thought-provoking question or use anecdote/lead into thesis by challenging this definition
ROUGH THESIS: Shifts in nation’s interpretation/ideological views of familial norms have occurred based on revolutions/changes in gender roles, ethnicity/sexual orientation within marriages, and how these factors have impacted younger generations.
Body Paragraph(s) 1: Gender Roles

Traditionally/Historically: nuclear family consists of husband+wife, children

Wife=homemaker; domestic

Husband= makes $/works, more edu. opportunites, head of household

(ex.) Victorian Era’s “Cult of Domesticity”

(ex.) 1950s “American Dream” lifestyle

(ex.) religious values

Social Changes causing shift: absence of husbands due to war, jobs, etc. makes women more independent; Women’s movement/feminism; increased divorce rate

(ex.) women earn right to vote, more job/edu. opps

-women becomes leaders in the workforce; political figures, etc

(ex.) after Baby Boom ends, birth rate declines and divorce rate rises

-single working mothers support family

(ex.) The Feminist Movement

-Books such as The Feminine Mystique, or Born Female

(ex.) Introduction of birth control?

-Margaret Sanger

Result: Female roles within families are much more prominent/equal to men, and this is now more of a cultural norm

(ex.) Stay @ home fathers vs. stay @ home moms

-women=main source of family income

(ex.) single mothers/women=common

Body Paragraph(s) 2: Marriage Characteristics

Traditionally/Historically: marriage exclusively between man and wife; marriage+reproduction= expected

(ex.) In colonial and Victorian society, marriage=determination of class or status

-determines/dictates financial stability+survival

-maintains lineage and family power

(ex.) religious beliefs

-marriage=sacred and should be only between male and female

Social Changes causing shift: interracial marriage/relationships become more common; fight for gay rights begins, people become more open about their sexuality

(ex.) Abolition movement through Civil Rights Movement; African Americans gain increased rights/equality

-First interracial marriage dates back as far as 19th century

-Frederick Douglass and his last wife, Helen Pitts

-1967: marriage of State Secretary’s daughter Peggy Rush to Guy Smith, and African American

(ex.) Arrival of immigrants; as diversity in country increases, ethnicity of spouses/partners within a marriage also changes

(ex.) People become more open about homosexuality/transgender qualities

-1970: Jack Baker+Michael McConnell=first same sex marriage in U.S.

-Celebrities/public personalities begin to “come out”

-Neal Patrick Harris

-Chaz Bono

Result: Many families in the U.S. are now extremely diverse, in terms of race, sexual orientation, etc.—this has become common/more widely accepted
Body Paragraph(s) 3: Effect on Future Generations

Traditionally/Historically: Children have been raised to follow their parents beliefs; through the process of enculturation, they possess the same values and morals as those who raise them

(ex.) carrying on family lineage

(ex.) having the same faith/religion, political affiliation, etc.

Social Changes causing Shift: changing views on gender roles and increases in interracial and gay marriage have altered younger generations biologically and ideologically.

(ex.) new ethnicities/”races” have been created

-half black, half white, or other phenotype variant

(ex.) children are raised by 2 fathers or mothers

-increase in adoption

(ex.) The media portrays these diverse new families as typical

-shows like “Modern Family” and “Glee”

-celebrities adopting children from many backgrounds

Result: Younger generations, having already been exposed to or raised by a diverse family, are more likely to accept and carry on this trend in the future, creating even more familial variation in America.
Additional Body Paragraph?: Those who continue to stick to tradition

-comment that some people continue to observe more “traditional” familial ideals/values

(ex.) religion

-Christianity, Catholicism, Mormons, etc.

(ex.) Political Ideology

-Liberal vs. Conservative views on topics like gay marriage


-Restate thesis, etc.

-End with thought-provoking statement or question?

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