[LMB] OT: ish, the nuclear family

Katherine Collett kcollett at hamilton.edu
Sun Feb 16 00:30:11 GMT 2020


On Feb 15, 2020, at 6:42 PM, Damien Sullivan <phoenix at mindstalk.net> wrote:
> 
> Though I think it's older than he credits.  I've heard a lot of the
> "northwest European" pattern of a prospective couple not marrying until
> they could afford a household of their own, via job or inheritance or
> prize money.  You see it in Jane Austen's gentry.

Yeah, but the thing about the gentry (and nobility, and royalty, as we also see in Chalion, etc.), is that they did not live in isolated nuclear families.  Sure, they had a household ... the couple, their children, the butler, steward, housekeeper, ladies' maids, housemaids, footmen, nanny, cook (YMMV depending on era and wealth level).  I do suppose that there have been some nuclear families throughout history; it's just that during a particular period of the 20th century, they were popularly supposed to be the norm. 

>> blaming the more recent lack of local networks on lawns having gotten
>> bigger, which he seems to do, 
> 
> I think that's oversimplifying what he says.

Well, yes.  He says a lot more -- but the sentence about the lawns does seem to make that claim.
> 
>  Zoning for detached single family homes started in the 1930s and
> took off after WWII.  I've been told the median lot size of American
> homes is 1/5 acre, sort of what I'd expect if 1/4 acre and 1/8 acre
> minimum lot sizes dominate the legal code, and that's a pretty big lot
> -- or more to the point, a pretty low density neighborhood.  ...

Have you seen the 2004 documentary The End of Suburbia?  I think that's the one -- the first half is about the development of suburbia in the mid-20th century (seems to be available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3uvzcY2Xug).  Some of its predictions have been overtaken by events, but from what I remember, it gives a good quick overview of how we got to the housing/zoning/neighborhood issues Brooks talks about in the article.
> 
> <snip various additional insightful points>

Katherine




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