Family values

Family values

"Family values" is a political and social concept used in various cultures to describe values that are believed to be traditional in that culture and in support of the idea that nuclear families are the basic units of culture. The phrase has different meanings in different cultures. In the late 20th- and early 21st Centuries, the term has been frequently used in political debate, especially by social and religious conservatives, who believe that the world has seen a decline in family values since the end of the Second World War. [ [ "Traditional families hit by declining morals, say mothers"] , "Daily Mail"] Because the term is vague, and means different things to different people, "family values" has been described as a political buzzword, power word, or code word predominantly used by right-wing or conservative political parties and media providers.


The concept of "family values" is rooted in each individual culture thus making the values different for different societies. In addition, cultures change over time in response to economic, political, and cultural developments. Therefore, "family values" vary from household to household, from country to country, and from generation to generation.

Conservative and liberal perspectives in the United States

Social and religious conservatives often use the term "family values" to promote conservative ideology that supports traditional morality or values. [ [ Support Our Families] ] American Christians often see their religion as the source of morality and consider the nuclear family to be an essential element in society. Some conservative family values advocates believe the government should endorse Christian morality, [ [ Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Religion | The Dallas Morning News ] ] for example by displaying the Ten Commandments or allowing teachers to conduct prayers in public schools. Religious conservatives often view the United States as a "Christian nation". [ Family Values, Race, Feminism and Public Policy] For example, the American Family Association, says "The American Family Association exists to motivate and equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth and traditional family values." [ [ American Family Association] ] These groups variously oppose abortion, pornography, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, some aspects of feminism, [ [ Dr. Hager's Family Values ] ] cohabitation, and depictions of sexuality in the media.

A less common use of the phrase "family values" is by some liberals, who have used the phrase to support such values as family planning, affordable child care, and maternity leave. For example, groups such as People For the American Way, Planned Parenthood, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays have attempted to define the concept in a way that promotes the acceptance of single-parent families, same-sex monogamous relationships and marriage. This understanding of family values does not promote conservative morality, instead focusing on encouraging and supporting alternative family structures, access to contraception, abortion, increasing the minimum wage, sex education, childcare, and parent-friendly employment laws, which provide for maternity leave and leave for medical emergencies involving children. [ [ People for the American Way] ] ["For all the Bible Belt talk about family values, it is the people from Kerry's home state, along with their neighbors in the Northeast corridor, who live these values."]

Political application

The use of family values as a political term became widespread after a 1992 speech by Vice President Dan Quayle that attributed the Los Angeles riots to a breakdown of family values. Quayle specifically blamed the violence in L.A. as stemming from a decay of moral values and family structure in American society. In an aside, he cited the fictional title character in the television program "Murphy Brown" as an example of how popular culture contributes to this "poverty of values", saying: " [i] t doesn't help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown—a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman—mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice'". Quayle drew a firestorm of criticism from feminist and liberal organizations, and was widely ridiculed by late-night talk show hosts for saying this. (In an interview years after the incident, Quayle said it was an off-hand remark and that he had no idea it would ignite such controversy, nor had he intended for it to. Ironically, the show's star Candice Bergen herself said in an interview after the show was cancelled that she agreed with him.) The [ "Murphy Brown speech"] and the resulting media coverage damaged the Republican ticket in the 1992 presidential election and became one of the most memorable incidents of the 1992 campaign. Long after the outcry had ended, the comment continued to have an effect on US politics. Stephanie Coontz, a professor of family history and the author of several [ books] and [ essays] about the history of marriage, says that this brief remark by Quayle about Murphy Brown "kicked off more than a decade of outcries against the 'collapse of the family'". [ [ "For Better, For Worse"] , "The Washington Post", 2005-05-01]

Others have used the phrase in such slogans as: Hate is not a family value. Jim Wallis, at the Sojourners Call for Renewal in 2006, titled his speech "Poverty is not a family value." [] Many Americans believe that access to health care and to education, and freedom from violence, are important family values.

Media application

Typically, the term is used by the media to refer to Christian values, but in a "New York Times" survey, "Five percent of the women and one percent of the men defined family values as being connected to religion or the Bible. Nine out of ten women defined family values as loving, taking care of and supporting each other, knowing right from wrong and having good values."

U.S. politics

Republican Party

Since 1980, the Republican Party has used the issue of family values to attract socially conservative voters. [ [ Republican Family Values] ] While family values remains a rather vague concept, social conservatives usually understand the term to include some combination of the following principles (also referenced in the 2004 Republican Party platform):]

* Promotion of traditional marriage and opposition to adultery [ [ Giuliani's 'Notorious Adultery] ] [ [ Whose Adulterous Affair is Worse -- Newt Gingrich's or Tom DeLay's?] ]
* Opposition to same-sex marriage
* Support for traditional education and parental involvement in that education [ [ The American Family: Discovering the Values That Make Us Strong: Books: Dan Quayle,Diane Medved ] ]
* Support for policies that encourage "adoption over abortion" [ [ The American Family: Discovering the Values That Make Us Strong: Books: Dan Quayle,Diane Medved ] ]
* Support for behavior identified as traditional or moral such as respect, discipline, attentiveness, religious commitment [ [ Republican Family Values] ]
* Support for healthy choices such as a nutritious diet, medical screenings, and physical activity
* Support for "abstinence education" exclusively regarding risks associated with early sexual activity such as teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases while not teaching such topics of sex education as human sexual behavior, safe sex and birth control.
* Support for policies that are said to protect children from obscenity and exploitation via censorship, among other methods. [ [ Republican Views on Child Protection] ] [ [ Orange County Weekly - Oh, Boy! ] ] [Mark Foley scandal] [ [ evangelical university shaken by sex scandal] ] [ [ GOP Campaign Manager Guilty of Corruption of Minors] ] [ [ Republican Prosecutor Solicits Sex from 5 year old] ] [ [ Republican Faces Molestation Charges] ]

Democratic Party

Although the term "family values" remains a core issue for the Republican Party, in recent years the Democratic Party has also used the term, though differing in its definition. For example, in his acceptance speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, John Kerry said "it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families." [] The Democratic definitions of family values often include items that specifically target working families such as a support of a "living wage" as well as universal health care.

Australian politics

The Family First Party originally contested the 2002 South Australian state election, where former Assemblies of God pastor Dr Andrew Evans won one of the eleven seats in the 22-seat South Australian Legislative Council on 4 percent of the state-wide vote. The party made their federal debut at the 2004 general election, electing Steve Fielding on 2 percent of the Victorian vote in the Australian Senate, out of six Victorian senate seats up for election. Both MPs were able to be elected with Australia's Single Transferable Vote and Group voting ticket system in the upper house. The party:

*Opposes abortion
*Opposes euthanasia
*Opposes harm reduction, favouring prevention, zero tolerance, rehabilitation, and avoidance
*Opposes gay adoptions, In vitro fertilisation (IVF) for gay couples, and does not acknowledge gay civil unions

In the 2007 Australian Election, Family First came under fire for giving preferences in some areas to the Liberty and Democracy Party, a libertarian party that favors legalization of incest, gay marriage, and drug use. [ [,21985,22709097-662,00.html Christian party's unholy alliance | Herald Sun ] ]

British politics

Family values was a recurrent theme in the Conservative government of John Major. Predictably, it caused considerable embarrassment whenever a member of the Government was found to be having an affair. John Major himself, the architect of the policy, was subsequently found to have had an affair with Edwina Currie. Family Values have been revived by the current Conservative Party under David Cameron, forming the backbone of his mantra on social responsibility and related policies.

Family values in Chinese culture and Confucianism

In Confucian thought, family values, familial relationships, ancestor worship, and filial piety (Chinese: 孝; Mandarin: Xiào; Cantonese: Haau) are the primary basis of the philosophical system, and these concepts are seen as virtues to be cultivated.

Filial piety is considered the first virtue in Chinese culture. While China has always had a diversity of religious beliefs, filial piety has been common to almost all of them; for example, Historian Hugh D. R. Baker calls respect for the family the only element common to almost all Chinese believers. These traditions were sometimes enforced by law; during parts of the Han Dynasty, for example, those who neglected ancestor worship could even be subject to corporal punishment.

The term "filial", meaning "of a child", denotes the respect and obedience that a child, originally a son, should show to his parents, especially to his father. This relationship was extended by analogy to a series of five relationships or five cardinal relationships (五倫 Wǔlún):

#ruler and subject (君臣),
#father and son (父子),
#husband and wife (夫婦),
#elder and younger brother (兄弟),
#friend and friend (朋友)

Specific duties were prescribed to each of the participants in these sets of relationships. Such duties were also extended to the dead, where the living stood as sons to their deceased family. This led to the veneration of ancestors. In time, filial piety was also built into the Chinese legal system: a criminal would be punished more harshly if the culprit had committed the crime against a parent, while fathers exercised enormous power over their children. Much the same was true of other unequal relationships.

This theme consistently manifests itself in many aspects of East Asian culture even to this day, with extensive filial duties on the part of children toward parents and elders, and greater concern of parents toward their children than found in modern American or European cultures.


See also

* Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
* Christian right
* Communications Decency Act of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
* Compassionate conservatism
* Culture of Life
* Decency
* Dominionism
* Glittering generality
* Heteronormativity
* Homosexual agenda
* Missionary Generation
* Paleoconservatism
* Pro-life
* Sexual norm
* Social aspects of clothing
* Social conservatism
* Southern strategy
* Traditionalist world view (American)
* Victorian morality
* William Bennett

Conservative Organizations that promote "family values"

* American Decency Association
* American Family Association
* Christian Coalition
* Christian Voice
* Concerned Women for America
* Family Research Council
* Focus on the Family
* National Legion of Decency
* Parents Television Council
* Traditional Values Coalition
* United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting
* [ United for Life Foundation (Art/Media/Education)]


* Bennett, William J., ed. "The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories". New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. ISBN 0-671-68306-3.
* Carrier, Marc & Cynthia. "The Values-Driven Family: A Proactive Plan for Successful Biblical Parenting" (ISBN 1598865277), [Tate Publishing, 2006] .
* Coontz, Stephanie. "The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap". New York: Basic Books, 1992. ISBN 0-465-09097-4.
* Coontz, Stephanie. "The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms with America's Changing Families". Basic Books, 1998. ISBN 0-465-09092-3.
* Coontz, Stephanie., ed. "American Families; A Multicultural Reader". London: Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-91574-0.
* Coontz, Stephanie. "Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage". New York: Viking Press, 2005. ISBN 0-670-03407-X.
* Good, Deirdre. "Jesus' Family Values" (ISBN 1-59627-027-6; ISBN 978-1-59627-027-5), New York: Church Publishing, 2006.
* Shapiro, Ben. "Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future" (ISBN 0-89526-016-6), Regnery, 2005.

External links

* [ Republican Family Values]
* [ 2004 U.S. Republican Party Platform] ("Protecting our Families")
* [ 2004 U.S. Democratic National Platform] ("Strong, Healthy Families")
* [ Dan Quayle, Speech to the Commonwealth Club of California]
* [ The Klein Coalition of Faith and Values]
* [ Support Our Families]
* [ ABC Radio National on Jesus and "family values"]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • family values — n [plural] traditional ideas about what a family should be like, which emphasize the importance of marriage used especially when talking about politics ▪ The party places great emphasis on family values …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • family values — noun plural the principles on which the traditional family is believed to be based, especially the importance of marriage. This word is used mainly by politicians …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • family values —  Values associated with traditional home life in America. See also OZZIE AND HARRIET. In the 1990s the term has become associated with anti abortion and anti homosexual political groups …   American business jargon

  • family values — noun plural Date: 1974 values especially of a traditional or conservative kind which are held to promote the sound functioning of the family and to strengthen the fabric of society …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • family values — plural noun values supposedly characteristic of a traditional family unit, typically those of high moral standards and discipline …   English new terms dictionary

  • family values — noun plural : values especially of a traditional or conservative kind which are held to promote the sound functioning of the family and the loss or abandonment of which to weaken the fabric of society …   Useful english dictionary

  • family values — /fæmli ˈvæljuz/ (say famlee valyoohz) plural noun the values proposed as being espoused by families, being socially conservative in character …   Australian-English dictionary

  • family values — pl. the moral and ethical principles traditionally upheld and transmitted within a family, as honesty, loyalty, industry, and faith. * * * …   Universalium

  • family values — noun Political and social beliefs that hold the nuclear family to be the essential ethical and moral unit of society …   Wiktionary

  • family values — UK / US noun [plural] the principles on which the traditional family is believed to be based, especially the importance of marriage. This word is used mainly by politicians …   English dictionary

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