Robert Putnam’s book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis continues to get attention. Michael Gerson has a good discussion of its impact, excerpted and linked after the jump. The problem being documented is that whereas a new traditionalism in middle class families is paying off in stronger marriages, better parenting, and successful young people, in the working class–white no less than black– families are in a state of collapse, with more and more people refusing to get married at all, single parenting becoming the norm, children being left to fend for themselves, and when they grow up experiencing all kinds of problems.
As Putnam documents, things didn’t used to be that way. Lower income Americans used to have strong families. Economic struggle is and always has been a problem, but that doesn’t account completely for the current family collapse and other dysfunctions. Something cultural is going on. For one thing, as we’ll be blogging about, church attendance in this demographic which wouldn’t seem to be connected to economic problems, has plummeted.
College educated kids, though exposed to postmodernist ideology and pop culture at its most destructive, seem for the most part to be turning out all right. But the less well educated, who presumably are not being so exposed to cultural nihilism, are becoming cultural nihilists. What do you think is going on? [Read more...]