Friday, April 14, 2023


 Belief in the value of college education was sacrosanct throughout most of the 20th century. In the early 2000s, the question began to be raised whether the payoff in terms of a better-paying job was worth the cost. For several generations, almost a taboo topic--  but once out in the open, an increasing percentage of the US population has concluded a college degree is not worth it.


The first big hit was the 2008 recession, when graduates found it hard to get jobs. But even as the economy recovered and grew, faith in college degrees has steadily declined.


In 2013, 53% of the population—a slim majority, agreed that a 4-year degree gives “a better chance to get a good job and earn more income over their lifetime.” In 2023, education-believers had fallen to 42%, while 56% said it was not worth the cost. Both women and men had turned negative in the latest survey—even though women had overtaken men in college enrollments in previous decades.  The youngest generation was the most negative, 60% of those aged 18-34. Not surprisingly; they are the ones who had to apply to dozens of schools, a rat-race of test scores, scrambling for grades, and amassing extra-curricular activities; most not getting into their school of choice, while paying constantly rising tuition and fees, and burdened with student-loan debt into middle age. Not to mention the near-impossibility of buying a house at hugely inflated prices, many still living with their parents; while all generations now agree that the younger will not enjoy the standard of living of their parents.


The only demographic that still thinks college has career value are men with a college degree or higher, who earn over $100,000 a year. They are the only winners in the tournament. Every level of education—high school, junior college, 4-year college, M.B.A. or PhD or professional credential in law, medicine, etc.—has value as an entry ticket to the next level of competition for credentials. The financial payoff comes when you get to the big time, the Final Four so to speak; striving through the lower levels is motivated by a combination of American cultural habits and wishful thinking


The boom-or-bust pattern of rising education makes more sense in long-term perspective. For 100 years, the USA has led the world in the proportion of the population in schools at all levels. In 1900, 6% of the youth cohort finished high school, and less than 2% had a college degree. High school started taking off in the 1920s, and after a big push in the 1950s to keep kids in school, reached 77% in 1970. Like passing the baton, as high school became commonplace, college attendance rocketed, jumping to 53% at the end of the 1960s—there was a reason for all those student protests of the Sixties: they were suddenly a big slice of the American population. By 2017, 30% over age 24 had a college degree; another 27% had some years of college. It has been a long-time pattern that only about half of all college students finish their degree—dropping out of college has always been prevalent, and still is.


The growing number of students at all levels has been a process of credential inflation. The value of any particular diploma—high school, college, M.A., PhD—is not constant; it depends on the labor market at the time, the amount of competition from others who have the same degree. In the 1930s, only 12% of employers required a college degree for managers; by the late 1960s, it was up to 40%. By the 1990s, an M.B.A. was the preferred degree for managerial employment; and even police departments were hiring college-educated cops. In other words, as college attendance has become almost as common as high school, it no longer conveys much social status. To get ahead in the elite labor market, one needs advanced and specialized degrees. In the medical professions, the process of credential-seeking goes on past age 30; for scientists, a PhD needs to be supplemented by a couple of years in a post-doctoral fellowship, doing grunt-work in somebody else’s laboratory. In principle, credential inflation has no end in sight.


An educational diploma is like money: a piece of paper whose value depends inversely on how much of it is in circulation. In the monetary world, printing more money reduces its purchasing power. The same thing happens with turning out more educational credentials—with one important difference. Printing money is relatively cheap (and so is the equivalent process of changing banking policies so that more credit is issued). But minting a college degree is expensive: someone has to pay for the teachers, the administrators, the buildings, and whatever entertainments and luxuries (such as sports and student activities) the school offers—and which make up a big part of its attraction for American students. And all this degree-printing apparatus has been becoming more expensive over the decades, far outpacing the amount of monetary inflation since the 1980s. Colleges and universities (as well as high schools and elementary schools) keep increasing the proportion of administrators and staff. At the top end of the college market, the professors who give the school its reputation by their research command top salaries. 


Credential-minting institutions have been able to charge whatever they can get away with, because of the high level of competition among students for admission. Not all families can afford it; but enough of them can so that schools can charge many multiples of what they charged (in constant dollars) even 30 years ago. The result has been a huge expansion in student debt: averaging $38,000 among 45 million borrowers; and including 70% of all holders of B.A. degrees. Total student debt tripled between 2007 and 2022.


These three different kinds of inflation reinforce each other: inflation in the amount of credential currency chasing jobs in the job market; inflation in the cost of getting a degree; inflation in student debt. We could add grade inflation as a fourth part of the spiral: intensifying pressure to get into college and if possible beyond, has motivated students to put pressure on their teachers to grade more easily; in public schools, to pass them along to the next grade no matter their performance (retardation in grade, which in the 1900s was common, has virtually disappeared); in college, GPA-striving has a similar effect. Grades are higher than ever but the measured value of the contents of education, ranging from writing skills to how long the course material is remembered after the course is over  is low (Arum and Roksa 2011, 2014). College degrees are not only inflated as to job-purchasing power; they are also inflated as a measure of what skills they actually represent.


The remedies suggested for some of these problems--- such as canceling student debt by government action—would temporarily relieve some ex-students of the burden of paying for not-so-valuable degrees. But canceling student debt would not solve the underlying dynamic of credential inflation, but exacerbate it. If college education became free (either by government directly picking up the tab; or by canceling student debts), we can expect even more students to seek higher degrees. If 100% of the population has a college degree, its advantage on the labor market is exactly zero; you would have to get some further degree to get a competitive edge.


Scandals in college admissions are just one more sign of the pressures corroding the value of education. College employees collude with wealthy parents to create fake athletic skills, in a time when students apply to dozens of schools, and even top grades don’t guarantee admission. Since athletics are a big part of schools’ prestige, and are considered a legitimate pathway to admission outside the grade-inflation tournament, it is hardly surprising that some try that side-door entry. There is not only grade inflation, but inflation in competition over the pseudo-credentials of extracurricular activites and community service. Efforts at increasing race and class equity in admissions  increase the pressure among the affluent and the non-minority populations. Since sociological evidence shows that tests and grades favour children of the higher classes (whose families provide them with what Bourdieu called cultural capital), there are moves to eliminate test scores and/or grades as criteria of admission. What is left may be letters of recommendation and self-extolling essays--- what we might call “rhetorical inflation”, plus skin color or other demographic markers; but the result will do nothing to reduce the inflation of credentials. The underlying hope is that giving everybody a college degree will somehow bring about social equality. In reality, it will just add another chapter to the history of credential inflation.


Except for the small percentage of really good students who will take the tournament all the way to the most advanced degrees and become well-paid scientists and professionals, the growing disillusionment with the value of college degrees will result in more and more people looking for alternative routes to making a living. The big fortunes of the last 40 years--- the age of information technology—have been made by entrepreneurs who dropped out to pursue opportunities just opening up, instead of waiting to finish a degree. The path to fame and fortune is not monopolized by the education tournament. For the rest of us, finding more immediate ways of making a living (or living off someone else) will become more important.


P.S. The advent of Artificial Intelligence to write students’ papers, and other AI to grade them (not to mention to write their application essays and read them for admission) will do nothing to raise the honesty and status of the educational credential chase.




“More Say Colleges Aren’t Worth the Cost.” Wall Street Journal April 1, 2023 (NORC-Wall St. Journal survey)

 U.S. Bureau of the  Census


Randall Collins. 2019. The Credential Society. 2nd edition.  Columbia Univ. Press.

Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. 2011. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. 2014. Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sunday, February 26, 2023



The fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by a group of Memphis police officers on January 7, 2023 shows the same patterns as other police atrocities.


Three police tactics and procedures seen in Memphis greatly increase the risk of cops becoming so aggressive and emotional that they lose self-control. The result is prolonged violence continuing long after the suspect is incapacitated; officers making frenzied, loud, even joyous noises egging each other on; mocking the victim, joking, and bragging about the incident for almost an hour afterwards. These are all signs of collective adrenaline surge-- like a group of excited sports fans-- at an adrenaline level where perception, cognition, and moral restraints are impaired.


The three factors are:

(1) Police anonymity: unmarked cars, no uniforms, wearing hoods, an ominous and threatening self-presentation.

(2) Large numbers of officers on the scene-- the crowd-multiplier of violence.

(3) Rumor transmission among police and support personnel, amplifying false beliefs about the dangerousness of the suspect.


(1) A pair of cops driving an unmarked car stop Tyre Nichols in the dark for an unspecified traffic violation-- "driving recklessly" in the initial report. It is a high-crime area in a city with a very high murder rate. The cops are part of a special unit, ominously titled SCORPION, proclaiming their intention to fight fire with fire. The officer who approaches Nichols' car (Haley) is wearing all-black clothes, a black hoody, and displays no police insignia. *


* In a similar incident on January 4  (3 nights earlier in the same neighbourhood)  22-year-old Monterrious Harris while visiting a cousin "was suddenly swarmed by a large group of assailants wearing black ski-masks, dressed in black clothing, brandishing guns and other weapons, hurling expletives and making threats to end his life if he did not exit his car." According to his lawsuit, "Harris thought the men were trying to rob him, and tried to back up his car... He then reluctantly exited with his hands raised and was grabbed, punched, kicked and assaulted for up to two minutes." He was arrested for being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, criminal trespass, and evading arrest; the lawsuit accuses officers of fabricating the charges. [Associated Press, Feb. 9, 2023] Details are unverified at this time, but the incident suggests what an anonymous police stop by SCORPION looked like from the point of view of the victim. 


Officer Haley did not have his body camera on, but he was on a phone call at the time of the stop and was overheard cursing at Nichols, without telling him why he was being stopped or that he was under arrest. Nichols initially would not leave his car. He had no police record, and was a Fedex worker on his way home from his shift. Other officers (already on the scene, or soon arriving) pulled him from the car and beat him. After he was subdued, an officer used a Taser on him. Nichols broke free (more on this below), setting off a chase on foot. He lived just a few blocks away, and according to his cries, was trying to reach his mother to protect him from the assault.


(2) There were at least two police cars at the initial traffic stop. This would be in keeping with SCORPION organization in 4-to-10 person teams. Officer Hemphill (the only white officer among those identified) drove with Haley, used a Taser on Nichols, and on a body camera recording is heard saying "I hope they stomp his ass." At the second scene, after Nichols is recaptured and severely beaten, there are at least 5 officers taking part, including Haley and several others from the traffic stop; plus further officers called to the scene. Video shows "a number of other officers standing around after the beating." Altogether thirteen persons have been charged: including 3 emergency medical technicians who connived with the assaulting officers, acting more like a cheering section; 10 Memphis police or sheriff deputies.


Officers acted throughout as teams, pulling and restraining Nichols; egging each other on to further attacks; holding and moving him bodily into position for further beatings. Usually only two or three at a time; but the crowd-multiplier increases with the number of bystanders, providing vocal encouragement and heightening the emotional mood.


Look at the time-line: Nichols was stopped around 8 p.m. Haley pulls him from the car. Nichols says "I didn't do anything" as a group of officers begin to wrestle him to the ground. One officer yells "Tase him! Tase him!" Nichols calmly says, "OK, I'm on the ground." Video shows he is passive.  "You guys are doing a lot right now. I'm just trying to go home." Shortly after, he yells "Stop, I'm not doing anything." An officer fires a Taser while the others back off temporarily; Nichols breaks free and runs off. This enrages the cops, who chase after him, calling for more backup. They catch up with him a few blocks away (within a couple of minutes). A pole camera video shows "two officers standing over Nichols and striking him as he lies on the street. As he tries to get to his feet, a third officer kicks him in the head. Nichols resists the officers, and a fourth strikes him as he is brought to his feet. One of the officers then repeatedly swings and strikes Nichols in the head with his fist while other officers hold Nichols' arms back before he falls to the ground. Officers restrain his hands behind his back, then drag and prop him up beside a police vehicle." [WSJ, AP, NY Times, Jan. 28]


"Three officers surround Nichols as he lies in the street cornered between police cars with a fourth officer nearby. Two officers hold Nichols to the ground as he moves about, and then a third appears to kick him in the head. Nichols slumps more fully onto the pavement with all three officers surrounding him. The same officer kicks him again. The fourth officer then walks over, unfurls a baton and holds it up to shoulder level as two officers hold Nichols upright. "I'm going to baton the shit out of you," one officer can be heard saying. His body camera shows him raise his baton while at least one other officer holds Nichols. The officer strikes Nichols on the back with the baton three times. The other officers than hoist Nichols to his feet, with him flopping like a doll, barely able to stay upright. An officer than punches him in the face, as the officer with the baton continues to menace him. Nichols stumbles and turns, still held up by two officers. The officer who punched him then walks around to Nichols' front and punches him three more times. Then Nichols collapses.


"Two officers can then be seen atop Nichols on the ground, with a third nearby for about 40 seonds. Three more officers then run up and one can be seen kicking Nichols on the ground." [Bystanders joining in at the end.]

"Recording showed police beating Nichols for three minutes while screaming profanities throughout the attack."


In the aftermath, the cops are still pumped."Videos showed officers leaving him on the pavement propped against a squad car as they fist-bumped and celebrated."  A police call describing a "person who had been pepper-sprayed" led to emergency medical responders arriving about 10 minutes later (8.41pm); the EMTs did little but join in the celebration, summoning an ambulance which arrived at 8.55 and left for the hospital at 9.08. Apparently they bought the cops' version of what happened. During this period "Haley took photos with his cell phone as [Nichols] lay propped against the police car, and sent them to other officers and a female acquaintance... Officers shouted profanities at Nichols, laughing after the beating, and bragging about their involvement."  This was the same atmosphere as in the beating of Rodney King by the LAPD in 1991: 21 officers ringed the captured car, cheering while four of them did the beating. Driving back to the station, police radio traffic boasted "we really hit some home runs out there tonight, didn't we?" (Rodney King worked at Dodger stadium.) [Collins 2008: 88-90]


(3) Rumor transmission in the police network:


In initial police reports "at least two officers said that Nichols tried to grab an officer's gun-- a claim for which there is no evidence, according to the documents, while leaving out details of the beating." (NYT Feb. 8, 2023)


This is a standard cliché. In the telling, it is typical to exaggerate the amount of threat posed by the suspect, if there is any hitch at all at the outset. In the same way, large numbers of officers called to a potential suicide-- a man threatening to jump from a freeway overpass; or holed up inside a house-- gets amplified as the report goes around by radio traffic, dispatchers, and word of mouth to those called to the scene. A possible suicide attempt drops out the "maybe" and adds the cliché that the suspect may be dangerous;  morphing into armed and dangerous; morphing into armed and swearing not to go out without taking someone else with him. In 1998, a drunken white man sitting on a LA freeway ramp for an hour attracted dozens of police from various juridictions (highway patrol, town police forces, sheriff deputies); during that time police radio dispatchers spread erroneous reports that he was firing at police helicopters and officers on the ground. They shot him 106 times, with many more bullets hitting houses blocks away.  [Collins 2008: 113]  This is another causal path by which calling large numbers of police (and for that matter, other support personnel) to the scene promotes police violence--- larger numbers are more links for rumors to be formed.


Psychological experiments on messages repeated from one person to another  find the message loses all detail as it goes down the chain, turning into the most standard cliches. In a famous case in 2009 a Harvard professor, a black man, was dropped off at his home by a taxi; a "not sure if something is wrong" call-in by a passerby was transformed by the police depatcher into two black men trying to break into a house; Prof. Gates became understandably upset and was arrested-- lucky for him he didn't get shot. [Collins 2022: 282-4] Whether the story that "he tried to grab an officer's gun" started from the beginning of the Nichols arrest is unclear-- the police were already primed to find a murderous suspect, get angry at any lack of cooperation, and become livid if someone tries to run away--- but the fact that the grab-the-gun story was stated by two or more officers suggest that it emerged as the overarching story frame by the time the police and the EMTs were jovially celebrating.


The patterns found in the Memphis killing have been videly documented in violence research.


[1] The hangman phenomenon: Wearing hoods, masks, and other kinds of scarey costumes are typical among mass rampage killers. The gunman who killed 12 and wounded 70 at a Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 wore a Joker costume and opened fire under the cover of darkness [2020: 257-8]. Kids who shoot up schools often collect military equipment to wear, including shooting-range ear-plugs which create a feeling of isolation from the victims. [2020: 261-69] The underlying social psychology is that people find face-to-face contact with a victim to be disconcerting; above all, it is eye contact that attackers avoid, since it humanizes the encounter. Videos and photos of beatings during riots (whether by crowd-control forces, protesters or hostile ethnic groups) show that victims are almost always turned away from their attackers; falling down in a frenzied demonstration acts like a trigger for attackers. [Collins 2008: 128-32; Nassauer 2019] Conversely, calmly facing one's potential attacker is the best way to fend off violence. Professional killers, such as the Mafia, deliberately attempt to take their victim from behind or when they are not looking. [2008: 239]


This is the hangman phenomenon: executions traditionally were carried out wearing a hood. Studies of military violence show that wearing a hood is associated with higher levels of violence and deliberate cruelty. [2008: 78-80] It is a way to avoid face-to-face intersubjectivity; when one's eyes are reduced to a little slit in face-covering darkness, the mutual exchange of emotions is cut off. The same psychological mechanism is found in the superior lethality of snipers operating through long-distance scopes-- the psychological security that the human victim is not looking back at you. [2008: 233-35] Wearing ski masks, along with all-dark clothes, are used world-wide by "elite" police and military forces, essentially as a morale-booster, and deliberate attempt to terrify their victims. William James explained the psychology: just as running away triggers the emotion of being afraid, dressing oneself up in the paraphernalia of a frightening tough guy makes one feel arrogant and aggressive.


No doubt American cops who dress themselves in dark, frightening outfits think they are being cool (photos of FBI raids often show the same tough-cop fashion code). Cops don't want to be square; and in the antinomian youth culture of the past half-century, criminal styles, playful or otherwise, are the definition of cool. But today's police should be aware they are emulating the demeanor and the ethos of authoritarian "secret police"--- secret in the sense of plain-clothed.


The Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei-- literally "secret state police") liked to break in and make their arrests at night. But these are the bad guys! Not like us? The Nazis regarded themselves, from their point-of-view, as the good guys, taking necessary measures against horrible enemies, mythological as they might be. Filling in the same blanks with different details, this is the same psychological pattern as the Memphis SCORPION and similar plain-clothes special operations (i.e. violence-seeking) police.


Besides the psychological effects of hoods and scary costumes on the perpetrators, there is a psychological effect on their targets. Individuals like Tyre Nichols, stopped by thug-like men, understandably try to escape. Even after it becomes clearer that they are police, acting the thug role makes them morph into the same thing. The Memphis killing resembles one of the first such police killings to be widely publicized: Amadou Diallo, in NYC in 1999, had the misfortune to be coming out of his apartment building when four police in a special anti-rape unit drove by; stepping back into the shallow entrance corridor set off a forward rush by the cops who fired 41 shots, at a distance of 3 meters, while Diallo reached into his pocket to show his ID. [2008: 112] The overkill--- firing went on after he was down-- is an indicator of adrenaline rush, pumping up attackers for many minutes thereafter.


Bottom line: Police wearing masks, hoods, and gang-like clothing should be banned by law. Respect for police does not come from looking like violent thugs. Whatever the tactical advantages police officials may think there are in these practices, more crime is prevented when the community trusts the police and cooperates with them than when they are afraid of them. *


* A central theme of Elijah Anderson, Code of the Street, 1999 and Black in White Space,  2022 is that black ghetto communities have high crime rates because residents do not trust the police to help them, so being tough-- or at least putting on the appearance of it-- becomes the local culture of self-defence. Combined with cops' paranoia, it makes a vicious circle.


[2] The crowd multiplier.  The more police at the scene of an arrest of single suspect, the more likely prolonged and emotionally out-of-control violence. [2022: 278-79] In all kinds of violence, a group against an individual produces the most vicious, prolonged, and out-of-control attacks. Photographic evidence from riots, brawls, and and ethnic violence overwhelmingly shows the pattern of 4-to-6 persons beating an isolated individual, typically lying on the ground and unable to resist. [Collins 2008: 128-32; Nassauer 2019] The pattern is found all over the world, and in any combination of social identities; police and soldiers act the same way that ethnic rampagers do. A combination of psychological mechanisms are at work: attacking from all sides ensure the victim cannot maintain eye-contact; successful violence almost always comes from attacking a weak victim. Emotional contagion accelerates in groups;  this is especially strong when there are supportive audiences [2008: 203-4, 413-30; 2022: 277] and  above all when the attackers are men and there are women in the audience.  [2008: 479]


Adrenaline rush is typical in most violent confrontations; when it intensifies to higher levels (indexed by heart-rates over 170 BPM) perception blurs, and trained attackers operate on auto-pilot; ignoring the victim's cries or interpreting them scornfully. The attacking group becomes an emotional cocoon, and a cognitive cocoon as well-- a state of polarization where all good and humanity is on our side, and the victim is dehumanized. This is a mini-version of what happens in genocidal massacres. [McDoom 2021] Hence the bizarre spectacle (to outsiders) of laughter and ebullience that continues while the adrenaline rush takes time to subside. [2008: 282]


Bottom line: Police training needs to be thoroughly revamped. As it stands, training emphasizes that a police officer is constantly at risk; weapons drills train for "muscle memory" to maximize quick response. It would take quite a revolution to train officers to prioritize monitoring their own emotions and becoming away of how they amplify each other into a collective mood. Officers need to be throughly trained in the psychology of violence, above all their own. *


* The best report thus far on what it is like to attempt to train officers on social factors in their work is in Jennifer C. Hunt, 2010. -- a psychoanalyst working for the NYPD Training Division. She did not feel successful in changing the  scary-macho culture.


[3] Transmitting stereotyped rumors. I have already noted that psychological experiments where a message is repeated through a chain find that within very few links, the message becomes shorter and simpler, losing all nuance and context. The stereotype is in the ears-and-brain of the hearer, even when the message is repeated just a few seconds later; if more minutes intervene, the message becomes the staccoto words of a cliché.  The rumor-stereotyping pattern increases the more links there are in the chain; this includes both police radio dispatchers, and the police themselves, in car-to-car radio links, or over their computers; and it can be enhanced on-the-spot as more police backup (as well as medical support) arrives.


Bottom line:  police dispatchers need to be better trained, specifically in awareness of the rumor-stereotyping process. Dispatchers are a low-paid, low-skilled job, which should be upgraded--- again, with social psychology in the foreground.


Most importantly, police training needs to be thoroughly investigated and reorganized. With each highly publicized incident of police violence, there are political calls for increased punishment, including removing qualified immunity. Whether or not this politically difficult reform is carried out, it should be noted that highly publicized trials and convictions of officers since the George Floyd killing have not stopped similar police atrocities from happening. Police throughout the country are acutely aware of the publicity; yet why do they keep on doing it?  The answer is that the behavior of police in action is subject to emotional forces, like the ones I have outlined. It is in the interest of police, and everybody else, that these social-psychological dangers should be very high in their awareness.




News reports by Associated Press, New York Times, and Wall St. Journal, Jan. 28 - Feb. 9, 2023.


Elijah Anderson, 1999. Code of the Street.

2022. Black in White Space.

Randall Collins, 2008. Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory.

2022. Explosive Conflict: Time-Dynamics of Violence.

Jennifer C. Hunt, 2010. Seven Shots.

Omar McDoom, 2021. The Path to Genocide in Rwanda.

Anne Nassauer, 2019. Situational Breakdowns: Understanding Protest Violence.


Tuesday, October 18, 2022


 The family is the oldest human institution, even a pre-human institution existing among the great apes. Along with the deliberate control of fire, which Goudsblom saw as the beginning of socially-imposed self-discipline and the “civilizing process,” early humans also developed a variety of kinship institutions. These were rules about who could or could not marry whom; incest prohibitions and exogamy rules; residency rules about whose group the new wife or husband lived with; descent rules about which lines of descent were considered lineages of membership, obligation and inheritance.


Family and kinship have always been based on sexual behavior: the right or obligation to have intercourse is the operational definition of marriage (however sentimentalized or euphemistic the terminology might be). Intercourse reproduced the social structure from generation to generation; including status differences between children of socially recognized marriages, secondary marriages such as concubines, and illegitimate children who had no legal right to inherit. Regulated and legitimated sex was the building-block of kinship structure.


De-regulation of sex became systemic change in human societies when other institutions were created that took the place, in varying degrees, of family-based economic and political alliances, child-rearing, and inheritance.  Until the end of the Middle Ages, the kinship-based household was the building block of political and military power, as well as economic production and consumption. Modernity began by replacing family-based organization with bureaucracy. States began to regulate the family household from outside, inscribing everyone on the rolls of the state as individuals. The core of the family has become personal and sexual rather than political and economic. What is personal and sexual has become freer, more a matter of individual choice; at the same time sexual behavior in the non-family world has become subject to explicit political regulation, either restricting or permitting. From the early 20th century onwards, there have been increasingly militant movements on one side or another of what is sexually permitted, encouraged, or prohibited.


In this context, I will consider current disputes over sexuality and gender. Why is there an upsurge in anti-abortion movements just now? I will argue that abortion is primarily about freedom of sexual action. It is part of an overarching array of issues that includes homosexuality, which is to say, more kinds of acceptable erotic practices; also publicizing one’s sexual identity in schools, in using toilets, and in festivals and parades; not merely private freedom of sexuality but asserting it as one’s central identity. Politics has become more centered on sexuality than at any time in history.


These movements are allied in a united front with a struggle to eradicate gender distinctions. Both sides of the dispute mobilize  movements and propose laws, each protesting against the other. In larger perspective, it is a struggle over what remains of the family and what will replace it.


In what follows, I will sketch the many forms of family-based societies that made up most of human history, from the tribal and band pre-state period, through the feudal-patrimonial households which were displaced by the bureacratic revolution. This transition was the specialty of the two great historical sociologists, Max Weber and Norbert Elias. Both saw the world-historical importance of the transition, although they called it different things. Weber called it "rationalization" (while recognizing the ambiguities of the concept), but principally he saw modern society as increasingly penetrated by bureaucracy. The lesson of Foucault's cultural histories is similar, although he says nothing about bureaucracy as a driving factor.


Elias set out to historicize Freud: bodily repression of natural impulses is not primordial but dates from the late feudal period. Psychology is driven by geopolitics; conquering kings centralized territorial regimes by making the warlords spend time at court-- thereby acquiring manners and self-repression. Courtly manners were adopted by the middle class as moral obligations. This is the "civilizing process," the strengthening of a  super-ego of self-control, taken-for-granted and becoming an unconscious "second nature". Elias followers (e.g. Wouters) posit further accretions of self-inhibition through the following centuries up through today.


In this historical context, I will sketch the history of abortion struggles; the sexual revolution in non-marital sex; homosexual and transgender movements and the battle of pronouns; and the perceived decline of the family. This will help answer the question: why anti-abortion movements now? I will end with some sociological tools for forecasting the future of the family.


I hope you will excuse me for relying on American data. Some of these trends originated in Europe; on the whole it has been a world-wide trajectory (with the notable exception of the Moslem world).


Kin Groups versus Bureaucracy


Kinship was the earliest form of human organization, and a distinctive break from animal families. The history of complex organizations took off when they separated from kin-based households into distinctive organizations for politics, religion, and economy. But for many centuries these spheres remained connected in some degree with kinship and household. Big shifts in political organization during ancient and medieval times, such as recruiting warriors to join migrating and conquering  hordes, were usually created by pseudo-kinship, a pretence of being descended from some mythical ancestor. Settled states were almost entirely alliance networks among armed households. They were "patrimonial households" (a Weberian term that should not be confused with "patriarchy"), with marriage connections at their core. But a household was powerful and rich to the extent it contained many non-kin servants, soldiers, guests, hostages, apprentices, as well as prestige-giving artists and entertainers. The big break in organizational forms was the rise of bureaucracy, which as a practical matter meant that work, politics, religion, etc. were carried out somewhere other than where families live. The change was visible in the built environment; castles and homes that were simultaneously work-places gave way to governmental and commercial buildings, containing their own furnishings, weapons and equipment, treated as property of the organization rather than of particular persons.


Too much emphasis has been placed on the concept of bureaucracy as a set of ideals and a form of legitimacy; it was simultaneously a form of material organization: control through written rules and records, hence a roster of who belongs to the organization, what money they collect and spend, recording who does what and how they did it. It is a network of behavior according to written rules and reports. Everyone is replaceable according to the rules, which means procedures, examinations, due diligence and whatever the cliché was at the time. Schooling is another such bureaucracy, taking away instruction from the family; and thus simultaneously freeing individuals from family control, while making them targets for indoctrination by whoever controls the state.


This is an idealization; empirical studies of bureaucracies show that the rules were often evaded or manipulated; modern research shows that bureaucrats don't just break the rules backstage, but know how to use the rules against others, when to invoke them and when to ignore them. Being maximally rule-bound ("bureaucratic") is not the most efficient way to do things; but it is an effective form of organization for breaking the power of kin groups, inherited rule. It keeps an organization going as an impersonal entity, even if inefficiently. Every revolution and every successful social movement institutionalizes itself in new rules and government agencies to enforce them. In this ironic sense, as the Weberian scholar Reinhard Bendix remarked, democracy extends bureaucracy.


It is in this context that we can understand the mobilization of conflicts over abortion in particular and sexual behavior in general.


Abortion and Sexual Behavior


Abortion is argued in philosophical and theological terms: on the one hand, the protection and sacredness of life; on the other, the right to choose, rights over one’s own body. But sociologically, abstract ideas and beliefs are not the ultimate explanation of what people do. It begs the question: why do some people sometimes believe one way or the other?  When and why are they vehement about their beliefs?  When do they organize social and political movements about them?


Arguments about abortion are stated altruistically: it has nothing to do with me personally, I am concerned for the unborn children, for the right to life generally. On the pro-abortion side, there is a general argument that everyone has the right over one’s own body; but also sometimes personal-- I have the right to an abortion if I want one.


But sociologically, the ground zero is always pragmatic: a practical matter of how people live.  What is the human action at issue behind the abortion argument? Abortion is about sex-- erotic behavior.  Why do some women want abortion? Because they have sex without marriage, in pre-marital and extra-marital sex. It is freedom to fuck without worrying about pregnancy, and thus is also a form of birth control for married couples.


Up through the early 20th century, an unwanted pregnancy was a fatal life event for a woman. The exception was for rich women who could keep it secret and farm out an unwanted child to a woman of the lower classes to care for it. To have a child outside of wedlock was scandalous, shameful, to be hidden away if possible.  It was a badge of shame, punished by being ostracized; the Scarlet Letter, in Hawthorne’s novel about 17th Century New England puritans.  Worse yet, the mother could be executed for murder if she had an abortion; or disposed of the infant though infanticide (this was the plot line of Goethe’s Faust). 


That was the historical scenario.  Today, some abortions happen because married women don’t want to have a child at the time; because the child is malformed; because the mother is in danger; or because it interrupts her career. Most abortions are to unmarried women in their twenties.


The taboo on unmarried pregnancy fell away rapidly in some countries (first in Scandinavia, then in the US) in the 1950s and 60s. In part, this was because of much greater acceptance of sex before marriage; in part because young middle-class couples started living together without getting married-- a trend that grew very rapidly at the turn of the 1970s, and was accepted surprisingly soon by the older population. Before that time, “living in sin,” as it was called, or “shacking up” was regarded as something poor or non-white people did. But within a few years it became normal to hear someone introduced as “this is my partner” rather than “this is my husband, this is my wife.”  The further terminological shift in ordinary language was adopted by homosexual couples, who more recently have shifted to using “husband and husband” or “wife and wife,” after winning political and legal battles over gay marriage.


The political and legal battle for abortion happened at the same time as the revolution in unmarrried cohabitation. In Scandinavia limited abortion rights began in the 1930s and expanded; in 1973 the US Supreme Court ruled in the lawsuit Roe v. Wade that abortion was a right covered in the abstract language of the Constitution. The anti-abortion movement dates from that period.


The arguments pro and con are on the grounds of legal philosophy.  Translated into social practice, to restore the ban on abortion means that sex should be confined to marriage. This means rolling back the sexual revolution of mid-20th century. On the other side, my body is my own, means in practical terms: I can have sex with whoever and whenever I want.  Men traditionally had this right; why shouldn’t women?


We are approaching an answer to the question: why is there a resurgence of the anti-abortion movement just now? Which is to say, a movement against casual, non-marital sex.  This should be seen in the context of the sexual revolution, starting about 100 years ago.


Sexual Revolutions


Throughout human history, marriages were almost always arranged by kin groups rather than the choices of independent individuals. Pre-state kinship structures were built around marriage rules, which group should send daughters or sons to another specified group. With the rise of large-scale warfare and alliance politics, marriages and other forms of sexual exchange became used as political treaties. Sending daughters of one leading family as wives or concubines to another leading family made them allies, and also set the stage for future inheritance of territories depending on accidents of which children were born and survived into adulthood. Diplomatic marriages of this sort have continued among royal families (even among figureheads like Queen Victoria) down to the era of modern democracies (including England’s Queen Elizabeth II). At less exalted levels of social class, arranged marriages also existed among property-owning families, an arrangement for continuity in family enterprises, and sometimes as a means of status climbing where money could be traded for ancestral status.


Sexual/love affairs also existed in virtually all recorded societies since ancient times, but mainly outside of marriage. They were a form of personal excitement, the thrill of a private backstage (Romeo-and-Juliet) which now appeared in the otherwise privacy-denying patrimonial household. Most of what we know about such love affairs is from the literature or entertainment media of the time, which probably exaggerate them compared to the realities of ordinary life in pre-modern households. But as bureaucracy and democracy eroded the importance of household and inheritance for individual's careers, marriage markets spread among the middle class. The growth of individual marriage markets-- though still heavily influenced by parents-- can be indexed by the topics of popular literature. The new ideology of marriage for love combined with a concern for material fortune is described in the novels of Jane Austen around 1800; it developed more slowly in French literature (long focused on adulterous adventures), and sentimentally as well as moralistically in American literature. The belief became conventional that all marriages happen by falling in love, or at least this became the normative way of speaking about it.


The 1920s were a revolution in courtship. Parents steering their children’s marriage choices was replaced by dating and partying. From now on the younger generation mixed the sexes without supervision, creating a culture where drinking, dancing and necking was the main excitement of life rather than a transition to marriage. It was a rebellious thrill in the US where alcohol was prohibited, but the same style emerged in England and Germany also.


In the 1930s and 40s, divorce began to be common, no longer disreputable and scandalous. By the 1960s, almost 50 % of US marriages were ending in divorce; a level relatively constant since then. This eroded the ideal of sexual monogamy or "purity"; a large portion of the population of both sexes were having multiple sexual partners.


Since the transition from childhood to adulthood involves a shift from a life-stage in which sex is officially prohibited to a stage when it is allowed, the teen years are a center for sexual regulation and associated ideologies. The 1950s produced a new social category, the “teenager”. Working class youths no longer entered the labor force, as governments made them attend secondary school; with free time on their hands, teens created social clubs and gangs, got their own style of music and dancing, with a tone of rebellion against traditional middle class propriety. The rise in crime rates began at this time, and continuing from the 1950s into the 1990s. How to bring up children became a topic of controversy ever since. Apart from psychological advice on home life, the social instrument for shaping and controlling the emerging generation has become schools and the policies by which they operate. Hence a new site for political struggle.


The Invention of the Social Movement


Here we step back again to trace another offshoot of the bureaucratic revolution.  The social movement is a form of organization and politics outside of the family and household, but also outside of formal bureaucrities: that is to say, it it a mode of creating new networks that did not exist before, recruiting persons wherever they might come from, generating an alliance of individuals held together by their devotion to a common cause. Social movements are a distinctively modern form. They scarcely existed in the era of kinship politics, where household might shift alliances but individuals within them could not go out to join movements on their own. The exception was religious movements, chiefly in the monastic world religions such as Buddhism and Christianity during their early phases of expansion. But as these religions achieved success they tended to ally with the patrimonial households of the aristocracy, and religious conversion generally took place en masse by the conversion of leading aristocrats who ordered their subordinates to follow. Other large-scale religions, such as Confucianism, Hindu sects, and Islam, generally blended with and reinforced existing kinship politics.


Charles Tilly dates the invention of the social movement to the late 1700s in England and France. Prior to this time, there could be local protests and uprisings in periods of food scarcity and distress, but they remained localized and when serious were almost always put down by superior military power. The bureaucratic state changed the logistics of political activism; it promoted roads, canals, transport, postal services and the delivery of books and newspapers; social movements were now able to organize large number of people across long distances. And the increasingly centralization of the state gave movements a target for their grievances: the capital city and the central government itself. Movements developed a repertoire of techniques for petitioning and protesting, ranging in militancy from demanding reforms and new laws, to overthrowing the state by revolution. In democracies, social movements became an alternative to struggling for power through periodic elections; one doesn't always win the vote but protest movements can be mobilized at any time to bring pressure on the authorities to make urgent and immediate changes.


With the expansion of communications -- telephone, radio, film, television, computers and the internet-- the material means for mobilizing social movements have vastly expanded. In the 19th and early 20th century, the main social movements were class-based, especially labour movements; sometimes ethnic and nationalist; sometimes humanitarian reform movements. From mid-20th century through today, the variety of social movements has exploded into a cascade of social movements, all competing for attention.


Sexual Movements


What was different in the 1960s was that political and social movements became heavily based among the young (in contrast to labour movements, based on married adults). The shift was driven by a huge increase in university students. Again the underlying force was a combination of bureaucracy and democracy. State universities proliferated in response to popular demands for educational credentials once monopolized by the elite. Ironically, this set off a spiral of credential inflation, as once-valuable school degrees (secondary school diplomas; then undergraduate degrees) became so widespread that well-paying jobs increasingly demanded advanced professional degrees. The political side-effect, however, was that the group of young-adult "university age" students became a favourable base for organizing social movements: students have flexible hours, are freed from family supervision, massed together in their own spaces, and thus available for speedy communications and the emotionally engaging rituals of rallies, marches, protests, and sit-ins. With the adoption of non-violent techniques of "civil disobedience" borrowed from Gandhi's independence campaign in India, militant social movements could both claim the moral high ground, and apply pressure by disrupting public routines. Such movements could also spill over into property destruction and violence; as Tilly noted, a violent fringe has historically existed around any large public protest.


In the self-consciously revolutionary generation of the 1960s, we called ourselves the New Left, distinguished from the old Left by being less concerned about ideology than lifestyle. Culture icons were the hippies, drop-outs from school and career, living in communes where they shared psychedelic drugs and free love. In reality, most were weekend-hippies, and most of the free-love communes disintegrated rather quickly, over jealousy and status ranking. The main legacy of the “free love” period was that cohabitation-- living together without getting married-- became widespread, even becoming a census category in the 1970s.


The 70s were dominated by sexually-based movements.  First,  the feminist movement sought equal legal rights and employment opportunities for women; plus its militant lesbian branch, condemning heterosexual intercourse as the root of the problem. In the 1970s and increasing with each decade through the present, a chain of homosexual movements demanded not only freedom from discrimination but the recognition of a new public vocabulary-- gender rather than sex, gay rather than homosexual, and so on. This has been a cascade of movements, each building on its predecessors, in tactics, ideology, and lifestyle, each finding a new issue on which to fight.


Counter-cultures and Culture Wars


Recent movements are built on prior movements of cultural rebellion, going back for a century. Like the New Left, the overall ethos has been antinomian, the counter-culture of status reversal. These rebellious social movements were paralleled by shifts in self-presentation, demeanor, and in the media depiction of sexuality. In the 1920s, women’s skirts became shorter; young women adopted a more mannish look. They also began to show a lot more flesh; body-covering swim suits became briefer; women athletes exercized and competed in shorts. (The trend also existed in socialist and Soviet Communist organizations; and in the nudist movement popular in Germany.)  In  1946 came the bikini, created in France and named for an island where an atom bomb was exploded; eventually there were men in thongs and women going topless at beaches. The 60s and 70s were a weird melange of clothing fads: granny dresses and throw-back Sgt. Pepper uniforms; Nehru jackets, surgical smocks; men in pony-tails wearing pukka-shell necklaces and jewelry earrings. Most of these styles did not last long, but the prevailing mood was change for the sake of something different. The long-term result was the casualness revolution (also called informalization), which triumphed by the 1990s: wearing blue jeans, T-shirts and athletic clothes on all occasions, discarding neckties and business suits; calling everyone by their first name, no more use of titles and once-polite forms of address.


Simultaneously with these changes, erotic heterosexuality was coming out of the closet, in literature and the media. The “jazz age” of the 1920s was originally named after a slang word for having sex; novelists like Scott Fitzgerald and song-writers like Cole Porter were full of innuendo. James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 began literary depiction of the bodily details of sex, followed by D.H. Lawrence, Hemingway, Henry Miller, and Anais Nin; most of these were published in Paris but censored elsewhere until 1960, when their mass publication fueled the sexual atmosphere of the counter-culture. In 1968, Hollywood film censorship changed to a rating system, marketing soft porn as PG (“parental guidance”) and hard porn as X-rated. The 70s was the era of the so-called “Pubic Wars”: glossy magazines with nude photos tested the borders of what could be displayed, moving from breasts to pubic hair to aroused genitals and by the 1980s to penetration and oral sex. Pornographic photos had existed before, but they were cheaply produced and had a limited underground circulation; now these were some of the biggest mass-distribution magazines. Sex magazines went into decline in the 90s, replaced by porn sites on the Internet.


Cultural rebellion spilled over into language. Obscene words began to be used in political demonstrations; then on T-shirts, in fashion advertising, and in ordinary middle-class conversation. The remaining bastian of prohibition on obscene language is what can be said in school classrooms.  Everywhere else, flauting overt sex has been a successful form of rebellion. One might even say that the major line of conflict is no longer between economic classes, but a status division: hip and cool versus square and straight.


Homosexual sex came out of the closet at the same time as the porn revolution. Gay porn magazines and film followed heterosexual men’s magazines; their circulation was never as wide (Playboy and Penthouse reached peaks of 5-to-7 million), but the gay movement was more controversial and more activist. It spun off from the resistance tactics of the civil rights movement, pushing back at police raids of gay bars and meeting places. It becamc a cascade of movements: gay and lesbian joined by bi-sexual, queer (militant homosexuals rejecting gay marriage), transgender, transsexual, non-binary, and more. The growth of this acronym—now up to LGBTQIA+ -- is itself a sociological phenomenon to be explained, as new identities have been added every few years, a trajectory likely to continue into the future. This is the pattern of a social movement cascade; successful movements do not retire, declaring their cause is won, but spin off new branches, seeking new niches and issues. The phenomenon is sometimes referred to as extending social movement frames to new targets.


A related issue has been sex education in the schools, initially about contraceptives for the prevention of venereal disease (a term subsequently changed as too judgmental). Sex education grew as an official alternative to parental advice or to informal peer-group sexual culture; sex education is the bureacratization of sex. In the early 21st century its function expanded to teach childen about homosexuality as a protected status, and as a life-style choice. In recent years there are movements among students as young as elementary school demanding to be referred to by non-gendered pronouns; and for government-funded sex-reassignment hormones or surgery. The fields of struggle have expanded: gender-free toilets; the battle of pronouns, banning the words “he” and “she”. In 2022, adolescent children have been charged with sexual harassment for "mispronouning" -- referring to a classmate as "she" instead of "them." In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation banning the use of gendered words “father, mother, brother, sister” in government documents. Federal health organizations now refer to mothers as "birthing persons" and ban the term "breast-feeding" in favor of "chest-feeding." (Wall Street Journal, May 10 and May 24, 2022) There are similar efforts to create gender-neutral pronouns in French and Spanish, although thus far not very popular.


Why Anti-abortion Politics Now?


The arena of such conflicts has become increasingly political, as activists file lawsuits in the courts and demand new legislation; escalation on one side leads to counter-escalation on the other. It is in this context that we can explain why the anti-abortion movement has become much more militant in the last few years. In 2019, abortions in the US were about 20% of live births; but in fact the ratio has fallen from 25% ten years earlier; this is largely due to teenagers having fewer children and fewer abortions; and to some extent to the growth of homosexuality in the age-group below 30. The anti-abortion movement has not intensified because abortion was growing worse; it is just the most prominent way conservative legislators can strike back at the latest waves of sexual revolution.


Conservatives view these developments as the decline of morality and good taste;  the intrusion of government into the lives of their children; and educational policies that they regard as indoctrination. Abortion is seen as part of the sexual revolution run rampant, separating sex from the family, extolling forms of sex that turn traditional parenting into an outdated status. Militants of homosexual movements have declared that hetero-normativity is on its way out. Homosexuality has become more widespread: it was less than 2% of the Baby Boom generation; grew to almost 4% of the generation born before 1980; to 9% of those who became adults around the year 2000. In so-called Generation Z, now about 18 to 23 years old, identifying as LGBT has jumped to 16%. This is still far from a majority; but an expanding movement is full of aggressive confidence, looking forward to a time when the heterosexual family is a quaint minority.


Conservatives see the same trends but from a different point of view: the falling marriage rate; below-replacement fertility, now down to 1.6 children per woman in the US, the lowest in its history (and even lower in parts of Europe); 40% of all children born to unmarried parents. More people are living alone; proportionately more among the aged 65 and older; but in sheer numbers of households, the largest number living alone are working-age adults.


Strict laws in American states banning abortion have been created in a situation where the political split between conservatives and liberals leaves neither of them with a firm majority at the Federal level, while conservatives fall back on regional state legislatures which they control. Here also control over what goes on in the schools is increasingly contested.


Abortion is just one issue in a divisive cluster of issues.  Making abortion laws more restrictive will not save the family; illegal abortions would re-appear, recapitulating the conflicts of the 1960s. Conflict over abortion is a symbol of the bigger question-- what conservatives perceive as a multi-pronged assault on the family.


Why the Family is Not Likely to Disappear


But there are reasons of a different sort why the family is not likely to disappear any time soon. When the feminist revolution took off in the 1970s, men soon discovered they had an economic interest in their wives’ careers. A family with two middle-class incomes could outspend a traditional, male-headed upper-middle class household. Two working-class incomes put a family in the middle-class expenditure bracket. In the new economic hierarchy, the poorest families are those where one woman’s income has to care for her children alone. Marriage and its shared property rights continues to be the bulwark of economic stratification.  From a radical left point-of-view, this would be a reason to abolish the family; or at least take child-rearing away from the family.


The situation is complicated by gay marriage, beginning when gay couples demanded the tax and inheritance rights of marriage. It also creates wealthy households, since gay men are usually middle class or higher, and two such incomes makes them big spenders-- one reason why consumer industries and advertising are so favorable to the gay movement.  On the other hand, although gay couples sometimes adopt children (or use sperm donors), the number of children in gay marriages is small (only 15% of same-sex couples, married or not, have children) and unlikely to compensate for the overall decline in child-bearing. There are about 1 million same-sex households in the US; out of 128 million households, this is less than 1%. Since about 13 million Americans identify as LGBT, this implies that only 1/6th of them are living with a sexual partner; most of them are living alone. The big increase in living alone may even be driven by the rise of homosexuality, or perhaps vice versa. This seems to be particularly true in big US cities, such as Washington D.C., where one-quarter of the adult population live alone in apartments, making up half of all households. Washington is also the city where the largest percentage identify themselves as LGBT, at 10%. 


Can sociology predict the future of the family? What will happen hinges a great deal on government regulations, and these depend on the mobilization of political movements against each other. The Internet era has made it easier for all sorts of movements to mobilize. But government regulation may become a weapon by which one side can censor the other and try to keep it from mobilizing. The causes of conflict are easier to predict than the outcomes, especially when the sides are relatively evenly balanced.


Computerization and its offshoot the Internet, foreshadow a future in which almost everyone works at home; manual work is done by robots; everyone spends most of their time communicating on-line, or absorbed in on-line entertainment. The generation brought up on the Internet is the shyest generation yet; they have many on-line “friends” but few friends in the flesh; they are less sexually active; more anxious and fearful. The issue of abortion may eventually decline, because there is less sexual activity in the future generation. The immersive virtual world of the Internet, strongly promoted by today’s media capitalism, may be destroying the family by making it easy to live physically solitary lives.  Thus the recent jump in identification as homosexual (16% in the youngest generation) may be largely a matter of announced identity rather than bodily erotics; a kind of fantasy ideology more than actual sexual practice.


Yet this may be why the family will survive--- not as the universal social institution, but as a privileged enclave. It is privileged because it is a place of physical contact; of interaction rituals, solidarity, and emotional energy. It is also a place of reliable sex (surveys show that married and cohabiting couples have much more frequent sex than unpartnered individuals -- they don’t have to spend time looking for partners).  Add to that the two-earner effect on household income, an incentive for the family to survive.


The trajectory of the last 100 years has been to undermine the family; but the rise of the disembodied computer world may change that. I suspect we are heading towards a future where intact families-- father, mother, and their children of all ages-- are the dominant class economically; and media-networked or media-addicted isolates, living alone with their electronics, are wards of the welfare state.




Statistical sources:

U.S. Bureau of the Census

Center for Disease Control

National Center for Health Statistics

Williams Institute

Gallup polls

Edward O. Laumann et. al. 1994. The Social Organization of Sexuality. Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Historical and Sociological references:


Seth Abrutyn and Jonathan Turner. 2022. The First Institutional Spheres of Human Societies. Evolution and Adaptations from Foraging to the Threshold of Modernity.

Philip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz.  1983. American Couples. New York: Morrow.

Randall Collins. 1986. “Weber’s Theory of the Family.” and “Courtly Politics and the Status of Women.” In Collins, Weberian Sociological Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Randall Collins. 2014. “Four Theories of Informalization and How to Test Them.” Human Figurations 3(2).

Randall Collins. 1979/2019. The Credential Society. NY: Columbia University Press.

Norbert Elias. 1939/2000. The Civilizing Process. Oxford: Blackwell.

Johann Goudsblom. 1992. Fire and Civilization.  London: Penguin Press.

Todd Gitlin. 1987. The Sixties. New York: Bantam Books.

Robbins B., Dechter A., Kornrich S. 2022. "Assessing the Deinstitutionalization of Marriage Thesis." American Sociological Review 87: 237-274.

Charles Tilly. 2004. Social Movements, 1768-2004.  Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishers.

Max Weber. 1922/1968. Economy and Society. New York: Bedminster Press.

Cas Wouters. 2007. Informalization. Manners and Emotions since 1890.    London: Sage.

Lewis Yabolonsky. 1968. The Hippie Trip. Lincoln, Nebraska: Excel Press.

Benjamin Zablocki. 1980. Alienation and Charisma. A Study of Contemporary American Communes.