A quick overview of recent family trends data from Germany.
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It is unsurprising that the majority of Germans think having a family of some kind is important to their happiness. It is perhaps more striking evidence we are entering a postfamilistic age that almost one quarter of them reject that view.
WEIRD societies are creating new structures for living that include imagining the family not as the core or foundational institution of society, but as one of many possibilities.
We used to the need the family to create political leaders (kings); we used to need the family to produce most of the goods we consumed (on family farms). Now we rely on the market to produce most of the good we consume and our leadership classes are chosen on the basis of individual merit not familial status.
The family has become a center of intimate longing in part because bureaucratic/meritocratic structures are the dominant ones in which we list and the heart rebels. Spouse as soulmate is one result.
But we are also learning to make those structures most “like our families,” to satisfy some part of the human desire for emotional belonging. Also we buy puppies.
If you step back from what you think about it, the contours of something pretty fascinating is emerging.
“are the dominant ones in which we list” should read “live”, not “list”.