Polarized Families, Polarized Parties demonstrates that differing regional ideals of family have shaped party policy and ideological positions throughout the twentieth century.
2018 | 256 pages | Cloth $79.95
Political Science / Sociology
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1. The Partisan Turn to Family Values: An Overview
Chapter 2. The Progressive Era: In the Path of the Juggernaut
Chapter 3. Post-World War II Era: Haven in a Heartless World
Chapter 4. Late Twentieth-Century Period: Family Transformations and Policy Shifts
Chapter 5. Family and Party Change
Appendix. Research Notes and Methodology
We must first discuss household management, for every city-state is constituted from households.Struggles to define the soul of America roil through American politics. Reproductive rights and abortion, immigration, and gay, lesbian, and transgender equality are some of the controversies that serve as rallying points for significant electoral groups. Undoubtedly, the American family lies at the core of these strident cultural battles. However, the alignment of family with social or cultural issues is only a partial picture, a manifestation of the New Right's late twentieth-century success in elevating "family values" as the focus of family policy. This portrayal obscures divisions over family economics, which intertwine with and shape the so-called culture wars over family.
Polarized Families, Polarized Parties documents and analyzes the extraordinary rise of family in twentieth-century party politics in the United States, revealing the political parties' rightward turn in the later decades toward family values and its enduring tussle with family economics, two frames that have long organized policy debates. By situating late twentieth-century family wars within a broad historical arc that extends back to the start of the past century, the book suggests that the political salience of family values beginning in the 1970s is part of a long-term dynamic of competition in American politics between sectional family ideals, termed Hearth and Soul. Hearth and Soul are two central ideational frameworks through which political actors have viewed family; its normative relationship to the state, economy, and society; and its policy significance. The Soul family approach is southern and champions values, morality, and religiosity in policy, and the Hearth family approach is demonstrated as northern and more materialist, targeting economic conditions facing families. Both are also shown to contain distinct ideologies of state, society, and economy, including ideals of race and gender relations.
The chapters tell the story of politicized Hearth and Soul family ideals and attendant policy approaches, their intertwining developmental trajectories, and their evolving impact on the substantive policy agendas of the Republican and Democratic Parties through the twentieth century. The central argument is that the shifting allegiance of parties to these family ideals and their policy frameworks reflects changes in the family lives of their constituent bases as well as manipulation by political elites, as the parties court and respond to changing cores of supporters.
The book demonstrates that the late twentieth-century ascendance of family values onto the national political stage is neither a new nor unprecedented political development; it is an old song but sung more loudly and with modified lyrics. In particular, it reflects the growing southern influence in American politics in the century's last three decades and the Republican Party's successful revival of a Soul family values approach to appeal to a southern electorate, facilitating both parties' turn to family values since. Family economic assistance, once the salient fault line between the two parties, came to be articulated in valuational terms, such that family values emerged as a crucial axis of partisan divisions, obscuring (but not replacing) policy differences over economic assistance to families. This complex empirical story is told in the context of two previous periods in American history: the Progressive Era and the post-World War II period, in which similar political contestations over family ideals occurred in conjunction with widespread demographic family changes, decisively shaping partisan policy debates then and their legacies thereafter.
In telling this story, the book makes a larger theoretical claim regarding family and the history of party competition. It suggests that family is a valuable thematic tapestry on which to study American political development. Much like race, gender, or constitutional orders, family is a major organizing feature of American experience through time, whose evolving political relevance hinges on its recurrent capacity to serve as a vital site on which political actors assemble and combine ideologies of state, economy, and society, often in response to large-scale social and demographic changes.
In the narrative, although Hearth and Soul family frameworks each pivot on a unique family political ideal (i.e., family as instilling values or family as providing material/economic resources), each trades off politically against multiple values/ideals that Americans widely share, thus leaving substantial room for exchange and manipulation of their components by the two parties. Thus, for instance, the chapters reveal how the parties have differentially deployed the Soul family values approach at different periods of time to invoke a positive and negative state, to deploy more or less of a market-based rationality, or to emphasize family values that are at times more moralistic or racial and at others more neoliberal or patriotic; all are mutable and capable of change depending on the actors and contingencies of each historical period. A key motivation behind charting family political development is thus to assemble the shifting compositional elements of politicized family frameworks (their ideals of state, society, and economy) and to simultaneously trace the partisan dynamics of these elements through time—how the parties borrow from, build upon, and/or reverse each other's elaborations from one period to the next.
This longitudinal investigation into family, as an evolving and composite partisan institution, reveals its three developmental stages across the past century. In the earliest, most amorphous, stage of the Progressive Era, the significance of family to party competition is shown as muted by prevailing constitutional boundaries between national and state legislative powers. However, even then the book demonstrates how family served to tie contrasting sectional visions of American state, economy, and society in policy, albeit in a loose, less cohesive way. In the second stage, in the midcentury post-World War II period, the investigation finds that family began to assert its presence more visibly within partisan debate, emerging for the first time as a significant national policy issue, central to the well-being of the nation. At this time, sectional differences, even more than partisanship, are found to have shaped family's political relevance, insofar as southern Democrats constituted a powerful third bloc, separate from nonsouthern Democrats and Republicans, in advocating their ideals of family. In the final, late twentieth-century period, extending from the late 1970s and arguably into our own, the book demonstrates family as crystallized into a central polarizing issue between the two parties, acting as a vital force to guide and shape Republican and Democratic divisions over policy and electoral constituencies.
In an observable sense, family has thus progressively increased its impact on American party politics, ultimately emerging as a lightning rod between the two political parties. However, insofar as family binds together ideals of state, society, and economy, and these ideals have varied across geographical regions and often parties, it is more useful to envision the political relevance of family in a far more durable way. This is best understood by way of a loose chemistry analogy: at a visceral level, water appears progressively "weighty" when transformed from a gaseous, to a liquid, and then to a solid state, yet its compositional elements (hydrogen and oxygen) remain in all three states. Similarly, although the form (nebulous then forming and finally crystallized) by which family has impacted party development has altered considerably and progressively, its ideational components (and political function) have remained the same. Through the three periods of analysis, the book reveals that family has served as the means by which political groups have reproduced ideologies of state, society, and economy as also race and gender. In this sense, regardless of its historically contingent electoral or policy salience, family remains integral and indispensable to the study of American political development.
The book thus makes two primary theoretical claims regarding the importance of families to American politics: the first asserts that family shapes party competition in important and overlooked ways, necessitating a fresh look at the conceptual understanding of party ideology and providing an alternative explanation for the late twentieth-century conservative ascendance; the second elevates family as central to the study of American political development (APD) and, in so doing, speaks more broadly to the significance of ideational political change. The following sections discuss each of the two claims in turn and how each contributes and/or modifies existing literature.
Family and Party Competition in American Politics
There is now a burgeoning literature that emphasizes the importance of family to American politics. Several works demonstrate the significance of family as a political institution, underlying and driving debates over morality, culture, and society. Political scientists also document the impact of family and parenthood on voting behavior, political beliefs, and public opinion, and recent works suggest motherhood, in particular, as an important frame for organizing political participation and influencing political attitudes. In the field of public policy, Patricia Strach demonstrates three ways by which family directly shapes policy: as a criterion of eligibility for goods and services, as an administrator that distributes goods and services to its members, and as a normative ideal to gain support for a policy position. She asserts the political significance of family ideals, a central focus of this book, stating that policy makers "hold and incorporate into policy very real and concrete assumptions about what constitutes a family, what roles members of families may be expected to perform, and what families can expect from the state."
The political significance of family political ideals or ideational frames is also central to works by historians Robert Self, Rebecca Edwards, and cognitive linguist George Lakoff. Collectively, the authors demonstrate that competing family ideals shape policy and political ideologies through a variety of mechanisms: (a) they serve as underlying assumptions or cognitive frames consciously or unconsciously invoked by parties and policy makers when crafting policy (Lakoff), (b) they act as rhetorical tools/justifications purposively used to gain support for policy positions (Edwards), or (c) they form "political projects" or policy objects actively pursued by dominant political coalitions (Self).
Despite the growing prominence of family in public opinion and political behavior literature and, more recently, in APD work, family remains overlooked in American politics scholarship on parties. In parties' literature, partisanship is conceptualized and measured narrowly—as Democratic and Republican ideological and policy divergence over the economy, such that American party competition is understood as operating along a liberal-conservative dimension, where liberalism implies an ideology of an expansionist state, positively intervening into the economy for redistributive purposes, and conservatism a negative state philosophy, privileging free enterprise and market-based individualism. Typically, the two political parties, particularly at the level of elites (legislators), are thus viewed as falling on either side of the liberal-conservative divide, and the history of party competition is described in terms of their varying support for a liberal or conservative economic ideology. For instance, Larry Bartels, in demonstrating the continued class bias among voters contrary to accounts that privilege the importance of moral or cultural issues, claims, "Economic issues continue to be of paramount importance in contemporary American politics as they have been for most of the past 150 years." Even among works on political parties that do demonstrate that American party politics also involve struggles over social, racial, and cultural ideologies, there too, none analyze the significance of family, in particular, as shaping partisan alignments.
This book aims to do just that. It contributes to the American politics literature on political parties by connecting party development to family, demonstrating the impact of family on ideological divergence and political party competition. It argues that family has been at the root of partisan divisions over economics and culture and challenges the existing artificiality of the economics-culture dichotomy by uncovering deep interconnections between political ideologies of state, economy, and family. In this way, it modifies the underlying framework or premise for charting the development of liberalism, conservatism, and their association with the two parties, particularly at the elite level but as nested in mass-level demographic and cultural change. For instance, Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal's seminal D-NOMINATE and DW-NOMINATE models highlight economic ideological differences between liberals and conservatives in Congress, for and against economic redistribution, as the one enduring dimension that explains congressional roll call voting from 1789 to the end of the twentieth century. This book suggests that the focus on liberal and conservative economic ideologies obscures the important role of family ideological divergences, which shape that very economic division in the first place. Far from a separable "cultural" issue, distinct and subordinate to economics, whose presence may be validated only as an alternative dimension, family instead maps onto views for and against economic intervention, often serving as the very justification for or against redistribution. As others have argued, albeit from the perspective of race, "political science accounts stressing redistributive issues are not wrong, but they do not capture the range of goals and members in the modern (party) alliances." By demonstrating the claim that family shapes party competition even on issues of redistribution, as also other issues, the book thus expands the range, scope, and content of partisan politics in political science.
The impact of family, how and in what ways it shapes legislators' economic preferences, is more observable through qualitative discourse analysis, not roll call analysis, that examines patterns in the content of how legislators talk about, illustrate, and justify their policy responses. By paying attention to family in legislative discourse, this examination unearths the latent layers that underpin the very differences in legislators' preferences of economy that are the current focus of prevailing political science literature. American party development is thus much more than a story of dueling ideals of state and its role in the economy; it is also, at its core, a competition between dual political ideals of family.
Differing family ideals, that is, divergences over the nature, function, and purpose of family—what families are for and how they should raise their children—inextricably contain alternative worldviews of economy, society, and state, as captured by Figure 1.
As depicted in Figure 1, conservative economic and social policy goals, such as maintaining an unregulated economy, lowering taxes, and sustaining free enterprise and individual market-based freedoms, pivot on a conception of family as geared to produce self-reliance (self-reliant adults), all of which form intertwined parts of a conservative socioeconomic vision that seeks to conserve, not upend, existing social arrangements. The book reveals that these conservative goals have largely privileged a valuational political ideal of family (Soul ideal), unmoored from economic conditions, where values, not income, determine family strength. In contrast, the liberal expansive state ideal that underlies the set of liberal economic and social policy beliefs, such as faith in regulated economies, broader distribution of rights and burdens, and greater social equality, hinges on a liberal conception of family as rearing self-nurturing adults, which subordinates self-reliance to personal fulfillment; these ideals form imbricated parts of a more progressive socioeconomic vision that aims to improve existing social arrangements. As the following examination finds, these liberal policy goals highlight, more or less consistently, a Hearth family view that conceives of economic well-being as fundamental to family cohesion, nurturing, and strength, wherein family values are determined by economic condition and are not separable from it.
The two family-centered worldviews are found to be poles of a continuum upon which Democratic and Republican Party competition at the level of elites has long occurred. In their quest for electoral success, the parties at various times cluster toward one family framework over the other, upholding differing visions of state and its nexus with economy and society. Hearth and Soul political ideals, empirically assembled in this book, are summarized in Table 1.
Through the demonstration of this imbricated framework, the book also revises the conventional understanding of what constitutes party ideology. In contrast to conventional treatments, where party ideology is seen as a coherent constellation of ideas, rhetorical tools, or abstract principles devised for electoral gain and unconnected to material structures or to lived practice and cultural experience, here, party ideology is shown as grounded in the family lives and the material and cultural realities of real-life Americans. The book does this by focusing on real-life family stories recounted by congressional members during committee hearings to glean which family practices and experiences have and have not been politically valued and highlighted by legislators in their policy discussions as positive or negative family images. By analyzing family and policy variables such as the socioeconomic characteristics of these families, the regional patterns of where they reside, and the policies they are used to illustrate, legislators' partisanship and family (policy) ideals are found to be linked to distinct regional family patterns and characteristics, suggesting that a party's aggregate family ideology and its social policy agenda are grounded in (or crafted upon) the lived family experiences of dominant factions within their base. The book thus argues that party ideology is the product of not only top-down but also bottom-up forces, reflecting a party's internal dynamics as nested within the actual family lives, the materiality and culture of those they represent. In this way, it complements existing literature on party polarization that situates increased polarization in the late twentieth century within widespread social and economic changes. Much of polarization literature, however, relies heavily on statistical and quantitative macro-level data, which limits their ability to illuminate how partisan polarization among elites relates to polarization of masses. By highlighting family stories at the heart of partisan policy making, this book connects individualized narratives to coherent partisan positions, uniquely demonstrating ideas as the discursive mechanisms through which family has come to bind party competition among elites and citizens alike, in the wake of massive internal demographic change.
Finally, the family-centered investigation evokes an alternative interpretation of a specific era in party development: the conservative ascendance in the late twentieth century. Similar to recent parties' literature on conservatism in APD, this investigation finds that conservatives played a more influential role in shaping partisan policy developments across the twentieth century, more than that which is often depicted in accounts that highlight only programmatic expansion. This may be in part because family is the subject of examination here, as well because of how this book defines conservatives. Admittedly hard to define, conservatives in the following pages are characterized first and foremost as "traditionalists" akin to Rogers Smith's proponents of the "ascriptive tradition" (i.e., defenders of prevailing social arrangements as opposed to upholders of the "liberal tradition" who seek to broaden political and economic rights). To this extent, conservatives are sometimes "constitutional traditionalists," advocating a traditionalist view of the Constitution, and at other times they may also include libertarians, defending liberty (of various stripes) above equality. In every instance, however, conservatives here seek to conserve prevailing, often gendered and racial, social arrangements and oppose redistribution of political and economic rights (as summarized in Table 1), sometimes invoking a positive state and, at other times, opposing it. Given their close interest in preserving traditional social arrangements, conservatives are found to display a prominent interest in family for all periods of investigation, their interest often invoked by their perception of family as the very unit of social reproduction, seen as uniquely capable of upholding prevailing social orders or upending them. Family conservatives also enduringly turn to family values to highlight their policy positions, displaying a long-lasting affinity to the Soul family approach.
While conservatives most certainly have not always been Republican, and family did not become a Republican policy focus until the 1970s, family and conservatism have had a long and significant relationship, with conservatives playing a more formative role than merely obstructing policy development. Instead, conservatives are the yin to the yang of liberals in family policy development, both reflexive, historically contingent, codependent, dialectical coalitions—neither developing without the other, even when one eclipses the other in certain periods.
Despite their shifting partisan stripe, family conservatives have had an unfailing sectional home—the South. More than any other legislative delegation, southern legislators most consistently—across the Progressive, post-World War II, and late twentieth-century periods—are found to have advocated conservative family positions. Southern legislators have tended to use their own southern family examples, more frequently than legislators from other regions, to illustrate their policy positions, suggesting a distinctive localism to their process of policy ideology formulation and elaboration. The turn to family in late twentieth-century party politics, the increasing adoption of the Soul family values ideal by the Republican Party (and then, to a lesser extent, by the Democratic Party), and the salience of family values as a significant national policy frame are thus directly related to southern realignment, the increasing electoral significance of the South, and the Republican Party's pursuit of a southern strategy.
Instead of viewing the rightward "southernization" of the Republican Party and the subsequent conservative ascendance in American party politics as driven solely by race and civil rights issues or even battles over sex and gender, the book suggests that family ideals were at its core. Neoliberal views of economy and conservative views of society, historically separated by party, came to be melded into a common GOP "politics of family," facilitating the Republican southernization trajectory and the subsequent ascendance of conservatism in party politics. Conservative ascendance in this account is thus tied to the increased prominence of southern domestic ideals within the Republican Party and subsequently in national American politics. As the Republican Party moved south, it increasingly incorporated southern family ideals to craft a Soul family values policy agenda, with Democratic legislators continuing to rely on ideals from families in the Northeast to advocate for a materialist Hearth family approach.
The account also highlights the formative role of massive family demographic change since the 1970s, its disparate occurrence and reception in the South as opposed to elsewhere, and so complicates the picture of the Republican Southern Strategy further as not merely an elite-driven phenomenon formulated by conservative political strategists and evangelical leaders. The timing of family demographic change and the coincident rightward shift toward family values within the Republican Party agenda underscore the importance of the southern cultural context in which conservative family ideals had long been prevalent but were brought to the fore by the family transformations of the late twentieth century. The book argues that family political ideals are thus rooted in distinct demographic regional realities, and overlooking these material and cultural contexts misses the lived regionalism that underlies partisan (family) appeals and political strategies.
In sum, by focusing on family, this account contributes to the literature on political parties in the following ways: (1) it highlights family as a crucial, albeit overlooked, site of party ideological divisions over state and economy; (2) it reconceives political party ideology as more than abstract principles and instead shows the lived material and cultural realities on which it is founded; and (3) it presents an alternative account of the conservative ascendance and/or southernization of the Republican Party since the 1970s, demonstrating that southern family ideals, southern reaction to family demographic transformations, and the rising electoral salience of the South with its distinctive conservative (Soul) family ideal markedly shaped this phenomenon.
The next section situates the book in APD literature, highlighting its contribution in terms of the prevailing understanding of political change in general and the significance of ideas and conceptual narratives as facilitating this change.
Family and American Political Development
Polarized Families, Polarized Parties captures change in party ideology and policy debate from Hearth to more Soul family frameworks as part of the increasing southernization of American party politics from the early to the late twentieth century. In its focus on partisan ideology and policy preferences, as assembled from in committee hearings, bill sponsorships, and cosponsorships, the narrative highlights the formative role of ideas in shaping political change. In so doing, the book joins other recent calls for expanding American political development to incorporate more fully ideational and not just institutional change.
Ideological change has now been largely accepted as significant in mapping party transitions, in no small part due to John Gerring's seminal work, Party Ideologies in America.
Nevertheless, interpretive studies of political ideas and discursive narratives continue to play a limited role in charting or explaining political development within APD, a relatively recent subfield whose overarching methodology is characterized as "historical institutionalism." Recent work in APD has challenged the original institutional bias, arguing for greater recognition of ideas and their role in shaping politics and political development. This has led to a reconceptualization of "ideas" themselves and how and why ideational and discursive narratives matter to a story of political change. Political scientists Victoria Hattam and Joseph Lowndes, for example, note that discursive change often precedes formal shifts in governing authority and rightly assert, "To understand political change, we need to attend to discourse, since this is where political identifications and social cleavages are made and remade," whereby "the very words used, the political appeals made, and the identifications evoked" become "the ground of politics, the site of change." Rogers Smith in his recent book, Political Peoplehood, also demonstrates "how different narrative structures and content themes shape policy making . . . and how, within the constraints and using the resources their contexts provide, leaders build support by knitting their personal stories and those of their constituents together within their communal narratives of collective identity and purpose."
Hattam and Lowndes's discourse-centered "cultural analysis" and Smith's idea-centered framework of political development align closely with the model of partisan change developed in this book. Here too, (family) ideational development is used to organize and map partisan change in the twentieth century, highlighting how partisans weave together personal family stories and the ideational threads of state, economy, society, race, and gender into coherent political family ideologies that evolve and get repurposed through three periods in the twentieth century. The book then connects such historically contingent composite partisan family ideals to specific types of policy positions, identified as ascription, autonomy, welfare, and regulation, tying why and how parties have come to support certain kinds of policies to their prevailing family ideals (see Figure 2). For example, Democratic support of "ascriptive-based" policies in the Progressive Era is linked to their support of a variant of the Soul family ideology, in contrast to their support of a strong Hearth family ideal in the postwar period, which instead shaped their "welfare" policy positions at that later time. In other words, party development—coherent, discernible shifts in the parties' policy positions—is dependent on the kind of family ideologies the parties uphold, such that changing family ideals shape shifting partisan agendas.
The importance of ideas, especially simplified narratives, within the immediate process of policy making is also highlighted in Deborah Stone's classic work, The Policy Paradox. Stone stresses the use of stories (or "narratives with heroes and villains") as a key mechanism by which political actors define policy problems, contextualize, and justify their preferred policy actions, thereby "trying to get others to see a situation as one thing rather than another" so as to facilitate reasoning by metaphor and analogy. The essence of policy making is thus the struggle over ideas, often presented as binaries; as Stone writes, "Ideas are a medium of exchange and a mode of influence even more powerful than money and votes and guns. Shared meanings motivate people to action and meld individual striving into collective action. Policy making, in turn, is a constant struggle over the criteria for classification, the boundaries of categories, and the definition of ideas that guide the way people behave." Hearth and Soul family ideals, as described in this book, are just such simplified ideational means or composite political narratives through which parties struggle to define family, combining elements of state, economy, society, race, and gender into what Hattam and Lowndes call "natural affinities" that suture "disparate elements into apparently coherent political positions." Whereas the two family ideals are evolving, recombining various discursive elements through time, sometimes intertwining and sometimes separating, their enduring appeal is also most striking and affirms the persisting duality by which other scholars have theorized family political ideals at diverse periods in American history.
As noted previously, ideas in the following narrative are not self-generated by parties and political elites but are demonstrated as grounded in the material and cultural contexts of their bases and electoral groups. Family ideals, as other political ideals, deploy positive and negative cultural images associated with established identities and policies, such as "working mothers" or "deadbeat dads," that resonate in similar ways among sets of elites and voters alike, signaling the symbiotic relationship between legislators' party ideology and that of their constituents. Coherent partisan family ideals are thus strongly nested in and woven from families' own demographic and "real" lives, their cultural and material contexts, changes in which both co-occur and are codependent. The book does not make deterministic or causal claims regarding the relationship between parties' policy agendas, their family ideals, and family demographic and cultural life. The emphasis instead is on the imbricated, interwoven nature of this multifaceted relationship, suggesting that shifts in parties' ideologies co-occur with demographic and cultural changes in the lives of their constituent families, with mass-level change acting as both constraints and opportunities for elite formulations of policy change, as seen in Figure 2.
Like overlaying circles in a spiral, there are three imbricated central layers to the cultural change model of party policy development followed in this book, as in Figure 2. The first captures the relationship between structural developments and family shifts, wherein macro-level changes, such as industrialization and mass immigration, engender changes to family life on individual and aggregate scales. Family changes are shaped by preexisting sectional contexts, both material and cultural, that impact distinctive patterns in how family practices both occur and are multiply interpreted in regionally specific ways. The second layer, the mainstay of the book, emphasizes the top-down and bottom-up formulation of sectional family political ideals by partisans in Congress. This process is shown as an interplay between evolving party dynamics such as intraparty strategies and regional coalitions, on one hand, and sectional family shifts, on the other, shaping competing ideational interpretations, articulations, and assemblies by legislators into coherent family political ideologies. Changes in party politics and in social behavior, such as transformations in family practices, emergence of new party activists such as the New Right and Left, and the opening of new issue contexts (e.g., abortion, busing, and school integration) in the late twentieth century, all contribute to the displacement of the parties' existing family ideals and their reformulation of the discursive links between their ideals of state, society, and economy into a revised family political ideal. The third layer connects parties' reformulated and repurposed family ideals to changes in partisan policy positions, as assembled from the parties' altered preferences in differing historical periods for one or the other kinds of family policy: welfare, regulation, ascription, and/or autonomy.
Patricia Strach offers a complementary model of policy development, revealing how large-scale changes in American families challenge family ideals embedded in public policies, creating "policy gaps" that form, she says, "when the social practice is at odds with values or assumptions of public policy." In turn, she shows how these policy gaps allowed for policy change to occur, configured around newly emergent family ideals. This book adds to that model by expanding the historical arc to include changes across three historical eras, focusing more squarely on the formation and influence of partisan family ideals on parties' legislative agendas and empirically demonstrating the discursive links between preexisting regional family practices/norms, parties' family ideologies, and party policy preferences.
Institutions, such as congressional parties, find mention in the book's narrative, but institutions are more contextual and less central to this story of party policy development than the (family) ideals themselves. Ideas do not simply "cluster" with prevailing governing arrangements as some have implied they do; ideas also structure and guide those very arrangements. For example, not only did the precise content of the New Deal Democratic Hearth family ideal, which advocated national government responsibility for family economic welfare, arise out of context of an uneasy alliance between southern Democratic legislators and their nonsouthern counterparts (and the institutional strength of senior southern committee chairs in Congress) but also, more crucially, the substance of this ideal also served as the ideational rallying point for the organization and mobilization of Republican opposition to the New Deal political order. This ideational opposition then grew and developed into a resurgent Soul family ideal pursued by the New Right in the late twentieth century, more actively structuring Republican policy ideology and strategy in that subsequent period. Seen in this way, party competition over ideals plays a vital role in shaping the parties' electoral and policy strategies from one period to the next. Ideational shifts, changes, and alignments are thus the very ground or site of political party development, even when those ideational changes do not immediately translate into tangible policy change.
Patterns in the very origination of ideas and their process of formulation and reformulation—which groups of legislators combine which narratives and forms of policy, highlighting what kinds of human experience and how those aggregate, if at all, into a more macro (party) agenda—are crucial to the study of political development and are an important goal of this research. Legislators offer real-life family cases in their remarks during committee hearings as illustrations of policy failures and/or success, embodiments of the kinds of family arrangements by which their ideals of society, economy, and state come together. In so doing, they draw upon positive and negative cultural imagery that is widely shared among Americans even while they reconstruct and/or reify some of that imagery. Every interaction of a member of Congress with a real family case by way of questions or comments, in which he or she raises a policy issue (coded as one event in the data set), provides a window through which to examine how legislators express their ideas and beliefs regarding family; its role in society, economy, and vis-à-vis the state; and the types of policy issues involving that family that are of interest to them, both positively and negatively. By coding these events across three historical periods covering almost sixty years' worth of congressional hearings, for characteristics of family mentioned by members of Congress, their party, state, and region, as well as the policy issues highlighted by them, specific legislators are demonstrated to invoke historically contingent and evolving patterns of family political ideals, also suggesting ideational aggregate patterns of legislators' family ideals across party and region. Thus, empirical examinations of ideas, while first and foremost reliant on qualitative methods such as discourse and content analysis, can also deploy quantitative approaches, as also developed (in an alternative methodology) in Gerring's book on Party Ideology. Moreover, the revealed aggregate patterns in partisan and sectional family ideals over time enable one to see, in a tangible way, the process of formation and elaboration of policy ideas and to also discern how macro (and institutional) forces, such as political parties and demographic change, can and do enable the groupings of ideas into coherent policy ideologies.
At a macro level, in each of the three eras examined, Hearth and Soul family ideals emerge as two grand narratives that have durable political appeal and recurrent salience. At this scale, both operate much like ideational "orders" or "regimes," similar, for instance, to James Morone's depiction of "social gospel" and "neopuritan" approaches that have continually shaped responses to moral panics across American political history. At a mesa policy level, however, these family ideologies engender variations in how they link ideas of race, gender, economy, and state into composite policy positions in different periods of time, manifesting in alterations in which policies most support that ideology, when, and how. In the Progressive Era, for example, Soul family values ideology largely supported ascriptive policies, whereas in other periods, such as the late twentieth century, it was harnessed to craft autonomy and even welfare policies. Depicted in this way, family political development simultaneously illustrates the durability and dynamism of politics, best perceived in terms of the valuable insight of Adam Sheingate as differences in "speed" and "scale" of political developments, such that slower change at the macro level coexists with change occurring at a quicker tempo at the mesa and micro levels of analysis.
Shifting the spotlight on ideas and discursive narrative formation continues to see important roles played by political actors. In the present account, although legislators (and party elite) operate within prevailing prestructured (sectional) material and cultural contexts (northern and southern family conceptual frameworks, for instance), they can and sometimes do display significant agency in the imaginative ways they reformulate, revise, and modify these inherited conceptions from one time period to the next, applying them anew to altered policy positions.
In sum, while Hearth and Soul family ideologies revise and switch between the two parties in the twentieth century and align with different kinds of policies in different eras, these partisan changes occur alongside a more enduring reliance on family economics (Hearth) or family values (Soul) as durable family political ideals. The two ideational frameworks continue to frame how legislators imagine and conceive of family and generate parties' policy agendas while simultaneously serving as opportunities and constraints on successive political actors looking to formulate new approaches to changing realities.
Overview of Chapters
The first chapter provides an overview of the shifting significance of family within party policy agendas. It uses party platforms from 1900 to 2012 and periodic bill sponsorship/cosponsorship data to demonstrate the growing salience of family in the two parties' political and policy ideologies, as well as the parties' increasing attention to family values starting in the 1970s. It assembles the two organizing family ideals, family economics (Hearth) and family values (Soul), demonstrating how they have reversed in the agendas of the Republican and Democratic Parties and periodically supported alternative visions of the state. The chapter identifies three critical periods in the family party development. These three periods (Progressive, post-World War II, and late century) are subsequently examined as in-depth case studies in the following chapters.
The first of three case studies, Chapter 2 focuses on the Progressive Era and assembles the ideational, partisan, and sectional roots of the Hearth and Soul family ideals, demonstrating their deeply gendered and racial character in that early period. It discusses the emergence into national attention of women and child-related family issues in the wake of massive industrialization in the early twentieth century and widespread family demographic changes, and it uses women's suffrage and intermarriage policy debates to reveal the emerging, ascriptive roots of party competition over Hearth and Soul family ideals.
Chapter 3 picks up after the constitutional reordering of the New Deal and highlights family party development in the postwar period. It describes the anxiety over family behavior in the decade following World War II, demonstrating the wartime origin of the parties' initial recognition of family as the keystone to national social order. The chapter examines shorter policy case studies of debates over housing policies and the extension of the May Act (to suppress prostitution and the spread of venereal disease), revealing the centrality of the parties' alternative state visions (for and against the welfare state) as guiding family policy development at this time. It also finds three, not two, partisan ideational coalitions, with southern Democrats displaying mixed allegiances to Hearth and Soul family ideals.
The final case study, in Chapter 4, links the demographic demise of the nuclear family and the coincident southern realignment under way in the late twentieth century, examining policy debates over poverty/welfare reform and education policy to highlight the southern-conservative and northern-liberal family ideals of the New Right and Left, respectively. It situates these policy battles in the distinct southern and northern differences in families' lives, following the social and economic reconstruction of the late twentieth century, and the New Right's increasing turn to southern family values to craft anew the Republican Party agenda.
The final chapter ties together the threads of family political development as suggested by the three period case studies to examine the future direction of family in American politics. It suggests that while the story of Hearth and Soul is ongoing, it is now being played out in new ways, with regional electoral conditions now institutionalizing this ideational battle and embedding it even more deeply in American party politics than ever before.