Why I called it The Family, and what that has to do with Cosby

First, a note on language In American English books from 1910 to 1950, about 25% of the uses of "family" were preceded by "the." Starting about 1950, however, "the family" started falling out of fashion, finally dropping below 16% of "family" uses in the mid-2000s. This trend coincides with the modern rise of family diversity. In her classic…

Marriage rights, writ wrong

With the big decision striking down California's Proposition 8 -- which banned homogamous marriage -- the terminology used is not today's lead story. But it is a good time to reflect on it. So, here are the results of last's weeks Family Inequality reader poll, which asked two questions: When the state permits marriage between…

Demographic trends and ngrams

Do words follow families? I previously used Google ngrams to identify the arrival of terms such as "parenting" and "sibling rivalry." And I took a shot at tracking family relation words in relation to family structure in histoty. But what about specific demographic trends that have captured the public's attention and sparked debate? Here are…

Horizontal and vertical family relationships, literarily

Aunt and uncle yield to grandmother and grandfather. In my Sociology of Family class, I ask the students to raise their hands if they experienced a substantial direct relationship with a great-grandparent. As all eight of my great-grandparents predeceased me, I am surprised that so many student raise their hands. (Maybe elite college students come…