Arlene Skolnick

Arlene Skolnick is a visiting professor of sociology at New York
University and a founding member of the Council for Contemporary Families.

Recent Articles

State of the Debate: Family Values: The Sequel

The Institute for America Values has helped define recent debate about the family. But its writers have the facts wrong--the policies they encourage could actually make children's lives worse.

WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY Maggie Gallagher, The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love (Regnery Publishing, 1996). John R. Gillis, A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values (Basic Books, 1996). David Popenoe, Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society (Martin Kessler Books, 1996). David Popenoe, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and David Blankenhorn, eds., Promises to Keep: Decline and Renewal of Marriage in America (Rowan and Littlefield, 1996). Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Divorce Culture (Knopf, 1997). I n 1976, a team of social researchers returned to the small midwestern city that Helen and Robert Lynd immortalized as "Middletown" a half century earlier in the sociological classic by that name. Like the rest of the country in the 1970s, Middletown—actually Muncie, Indiana—had been shaken by the series of social and cultural upheavals that had suddenly undone...

The New Crusade for the Old Family

A new wave of family restorationists says that the evidence on families is in and that the remedies are clear. Their case doesn't hold up.

What is the root cause in America of poverty, crime, drug abuse, gang warfare, urban decay, and failing schools? According to op-ed pundits, Sunday talking heads, radio call-in shows, and politicians in both parties, the answer is the growing number of children being raised by single parents, especially by mothers who never married in the first place. Restore family values and the two-parent family, and America's social problems will be substantially solved. By the close of the 1992 presidential campaign, the war over family values seemed to fade. Dan Quayle's attack on Murphy Brown's single motherhood stirred more ridicule on late night talk shows than moral panic. The public clearly preferred Bill Clinton's focus on the economy and his more inclusive version of the family theme: "family values" means "valuing families," no matter what their form -- traditional, extended, two-parent, one-parent. Yet Clinton's victory was quickly followed by a new bipartisan crusade to restore the two...