This new book sounds fascinating: Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture. From the review by Jonathan Rauch:
Rauch points out that traditional family life was built on early marriages, and the ability of low-skilled men to get jobs with little education. But the global economy changed the game, by demanding high levels of skill and education, and the sexual revolution decoupled sex from children. Women entered the workforce and could postpone child bearing; liberalization of divorce laws made it easier to break up a marriage and gave women options and independence.
Cultural conservatives revel in condemning the loose moral values and louche lifestyles of "San Francisco liberals." But if you want to find two-parent families with stable marriages and coddled kids, your best bet is to bypass Sarah Palin country and go to Nancy Pelosi territory: the liberal, bicoastal, predominantly Democratic places that cultural conservatives love to hate......
Red America still prefers the traditional model. In 2008, when news emerged that the 17-year-old daughter of the Republican vice presidential nominee was pregnant, traditionalists were reassured rather than outraged, because Bristol Palin followed the time-honored rules by announcing she would marry the father. They were kids, to be sure, but they would form a family and grow up together, as so many before them had done. Blue America, by contrast, was censorious. Bristol had committed the unforgivable sin of starting a family too young. If red and blue America seemed to be talking past one another about family values, it's because they were.This really rings true, as we look at the faces of the angry TeaBaggers protesting change. When we hear the Palinistas, they are not speaking in the measured mature voices of educated people considering evidence and argument and complexity. They are emotional voices of protest, trying to return to a simple tradition that probably never really was. They are being left behind.
.... Blue norms are well adapted to the Information Age. They encourage late family formation and advanced education. They produce prosperous parents with graduate degrees, low divorce rates, and one or two over-protected children.
Red norms, on the other hand, create a quandary. They shun abortion (which is blue America's ultimate weapon against premature parenthood) and emphasize abstinence over contraception. But deferring sex in today's cultural environment, with its wide acceptance of premarital sex, is hard. ....Moral traditionalism fails to prevent premarital sex and early childbirth. Births precipitate more early marriages and unwed parenthood. That, in turn, increases family breakdown while reducing education and earnings.....
I was talking to J., a 20ish friend of my stepdaughter's. She grew up in a poor, rural community and was glad to escape to move to the city and study for her cosmetology license. (Another of Stepdaughter's friends, F., escaped a similar home town by joining the Navy. ) J's home town was scenically beautiful, but economically depressed after the lumber mills closed. Not for them the information superhighway, challenging jobs, travel and books and reading that most of us enjoy. No expectation of college, no office jobs, no nice car. No big city, edgy bands, dance clubs or new people to meet either. People who can leave, do--like J., and F., who don't plan to return. But J's high school classmates who stayed have few options. THey work dead-end jobs with little money, if they work at all, smoking pot and having sex, and having babies. And fulminating against socialism and that black man in the White House as they wait for their checks or food stamps in a world where progress has literally passed them by.
When J told me about her home town, I wondered: how do we bring them along? There are no jobs there; like many depressed communities that have lost mills, mines, and plants, there's no place for them to go. The modern world has cut out the traditional blue collar worker, who made a solid living in manufacturing or resource extraction. A family structure dependent on traditional views of women, sex, and divorce cracks asunder as those views change, but trying to turn the clock back to the sexual mores of the 50s isn't going to work as a remedy. People can't make a life or a family flipping burgers for minimum wage at MacDonald's. High tech companies and high tech jobs aren't going to relocate into these communities. As Rauch points out, the gap between Them and Us is self-enforcing, and growing . And they aren't going away or getting better. No wonder they are so angry.