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Politics of Parenthood, The

Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family

Steven Greene, Laurel Elder

Publication Year: 2012

'Traces the rising emphasis on parenthood in contemporary American politics. Certain events in one’s life, such as marriage, joining the workforce, and growing older, can become important determinants of political attitudes and voting choice. Each of these events has been the subject of considerable study, but in The Politics of Parenthood, Laurel Elder and Steven Greene look at the political impact of one of life’s most challenging adult experiences—having and raising children. Using a comprehensive array of both quantitative and qualitative analyses, Elder and Greene systematically reveal for the first time how the very personal act of raising a family is also a politically defining experience, one that shapes the political attitudes of Americans on a range of important policy issues. They document how political parties, presidential candidates, and the news media have politicized parenthood and the family over not just one election year, but the last several decades. They conclude that the way the themes of parenthood and the family have evolved as partisan issues at the mass and elite levels has been driven by, and reflects fundamental shifts in, American society and the structure of the American family.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

A book this long in the making means a lot of people to thank. We definitely need to start with the many friends and mentors in the Ohio State Political Science department, where we began our friendship—if not our collaboration. Paul Beck was the best adviser either of us could ask for in guiding us through our respective dissertations ...

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Chapter 1: Parenthood Is Political

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pp. 1-10

This book is an exploration into how parenthood and the family have become politicized in American politics. Despite the centrality of raising children in the lives of many voters, and despite the emergence and prominence of topics concerning parents and the family within the national political debate, ...

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Chapter 2: The Politics of the Changing American Family

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pp. 11-22

Having and raising children has always brought about profound, long-term change in the lives of adults. Over the last several decades, the societal context in which parenting takes place has changed in ways that have increased concerns about the family as well as the challenges and pressures that parents face. ...

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Chapter 3: “Family Values” vs. “Champion of Working Families”: Parenthood, Families, and the Political Parties

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pp. 23-48

In their analysis of issue evolution, Edward G. Carmines and James A. Stimson argue that “exogenous shocks to the system,” or major societal changes, present new opportunities for strategic politicians and can spur partisan evolution on particular issues (1989, 4). ...

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Chapter 4: The Rise of Politicized Moms and Dads: Media Coverage of Parenthood

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pp. 49-66

The last chapter revealed that parenthood and the family have gone from being essentially non-political and non-partisan issues—rarely being mentioned in platforms, major speeches, and presidential campaigns—to providing a fundamental frame for the broad domestic policy agendas of both parties ...

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Chapter 5: The Political Attitudes of Mothers and Fathers

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pp. 67-92

In this chapter we examine the politics of parents—their political attitudes on major policy issues as well as their partisanship, ideology, and vote choice—over the last several decades as the context of parenting has undergone significant changes and as parenthood and the family have emerged as prominent themes in political discourse and election news coverage. ...

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Chapter 6: Marriage, Race, and the Politics of Parenthood

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pp. 93-114

The last chapter offered empirical evidence that the personal is indeed political. Parenthood, one of the most life-changing experiences, is associated with significantly different attitudes on a wide range of important issues in multiple policy domains. The overtime analysis of political attitudes and values showed that mothers and fathers ...

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Chapter 7: The Consequences and Future of the Politics of Parenthood

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pp. 115-132

This book has told the story of how parenthood and the family have become politicized in contemporary American politics. The politicization of parenthood has not been a purely elite-level, nor a purely mass-level phenomenon, but has characterized all of the key components of the electoral environment: ...


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pp. 133-142


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pp. 143-146


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pp. 147-160


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pp. 161-168

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781438443966
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438443959

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 817565768
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Politics of Parenthood, The

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Parenthood -- United States.
  • Families -- United States.
  • Parenthood -- United States -- Public opinion.
  • Families -- United States -- Public opinion.
  • United States -- Politics and government.
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