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Not feminism, the establishment of the discrete nuclear family as a social and labor unit divorced from kinship groups. When you've already pared down the web of fundamental relations to 2-5 person cells, your already only a step away from complete individual social collapse.

That doesn't even touch on the breakdown of community organizations (churches, fraternal orders, what have you).






Arguably this all comes down to economics/capitalism.

Unpaid favors to family aren't measured in GDP and can't be taxed. Breaking down extended family into individual workers is good for the economy. Having stay-at-home moms work while sending their kids to group childcare is also more economically efficient.

What's good for the economy may not be good for individual humans though. We aren't homo economicus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_economicus


Surprised you were downvoted. This is a very good point: unpaid labor still exists, it's just not counted, either for taxation or economic statistics purposes. That means that everyone who has an incentive to optimize these metrics (meaning most people within the for-pay, capitalistic economy) has an incentive to favor policies that replace unpaid labor with paid labor that makes the transfer of value explicit.

You see this trend in other areas as well: the gift economy of the early Internet became the advertising economy of today, the open-source economy of the early 90s now has Github etc. offering rewards for creators, the karma economy of early social media contributors is replaced by the Patreon model today, the idea of driving a drunk friend home is replaced by calling them an Uber, the practice of quietly giving a family in need money is replaced by GoFundMe, and so on.

There are pluses and minuses to this: it's certainly been good for the economy, and generates liquidity where previously there was none, but it's done a lot to destroy social relationships and trust.


I think you're right that it comes down to economics/capitalism. But I doubt it's a conspiracy to boost GDP and tax revenue, as you allude by saying "is good for the economy". I think you're closer to the mark with "economically efficient" -- what seems a more likely explanation to me is comparative advantage:

Sure, grandpa might be a great primary caregiver while mom and dad are at work, but he might also not be. Chances are low he has any training in early childhood education, though he may have raised his own kids -- but he's tautologically not as young as he used to be. But he might have training in law, or medicine, and might plausibly be very valuable as a consultant for the hours that he's instead watching little Ephra.

The licensed daycare in the neighborhood, by contrast, is set up to care for children, and -- depending on grandpa's hourly rate -- might do so at a lower cost. The folks there are (maybe?) trained in early childhood education, and have years of experience handling 1-2 year olds, or 2-3 year olds, or 3-4 year olds, at least compared with grandpa who might only have a year or two of experience with each.


> the establishment of the discrete nuclear family as a social and labor unit divorced from kinship groups.

Where has the nuclear family ever been divorced from kinship groups. A nuclear family is by definition part of an extended network, because mom and dad are both parents of one nuclear family as well as children of two others. Without a strong nuclear family there is no kinship, and all nuclear families imply extended kin groups, by definition. I will never understand where this nonsense dichotomy of nuclear family v 'kin' has come from.


When people talk about the nuclear family, they're talking about the setup post-industrialization and particularly post-war spurred by the birth of modern civil engineering and the simultaneous spread of the highway system - where the term nuclear family came from.

Many societies and cultures have large extended families living together. That is definitely not the norm in the U.S. and Canada, nor is it the case in most of Northern Europe (from what I understand).

It is not the norm today, but it certainly was in the heyday of 'nuclear' family, in the sense that grandparents, aunts and uncles, would be living nearby.



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