When do children become mainstream?

Against the mainstream - models of childlessness and abundance of children to explain the deviation from the two-child norm

Against the mainstream: cultural conceptions of childlessness and large families to explain a deviation from the two-child family
[Journal article]

Abstract

"The model of the two-child family has dominated the Federal Republic of Germany for decades. Nevertheless, there are people who deviate from this mainstream: They consciously decide against children, for an only child or for three or more children. more

"For decades, the model of the two-child family has dominated the Federal Republic of Germany. Nevertheless, there are people who deviate from this mainstream: They consciously decide against children, for an only child or for three or more children. Such parity differences have been investigated for a long time, however rarely including cultural ideas about life with or without children. Using the data of the model survey, it is shown for young adults of reproductive age that cultural ideals provide additional knowledge about deviations from the norm and that deviants perceive social stigmatization four and more children the high intrinsic motivation all economic and structural aspects. Compared to the other norm deviants, the childless show a perceived discrepancy to the majority society al pressure to justify or even conform to the norm. Contrary to the thesis of the 'culture of childlessness' advocated in the literature, there is a widespread view that childlessness is 'normal', but rarely desirable in the sense of an ideal. In addition, despite the dominant two-child norm, other family milieus have established themselves. "(Author's report) ... less


"For decades, the ideal of a two-child family has been predominant in Germany. Nevertheless, there are people who deviate from this mainstream, taking the informed decision not to have any children at all, to have only one child or, alternatively, to have three or more children. Such differences in ... more

"For decades, the ideal of a two-child family has been predominant in Germany. Nevertheless, there are people who deviate from this mainstream, taking the informed decision not to have any children at all, to have only one child or, alternatively, to have three or more children. Such differences in the number of children have long been examined, however, cultural concepts of having either lots of or no children at all, have rarely been included. The data collected in the survey “Familienleitbilder” reveals that in young adults in reproductive age, existing cultural conceptions provide new insights into the phenomenon of deviation from the norm, deviators being subject to social stigmatization. Moreover, in case of families with four and more children, a high degree of intrinsic motivation outshines all economic and structural aspects. In childless people - even more than in comparison to other groups - a discrepancy with respect to the majority becomes apparent, potentially suggesting a pressure to justify oneself to society or even to comply with the mainstream. In contrast to the advocated thesis in literature, childlessness is indeed commonly regarded as 'normal', however, rarely as desirable in terms of an ideal. Furthermore, despite the dominant two-child norm, other family milieus have been established. "(Author's abstract) ... less

Thesaurus keywords
Federal Republic of Germany; social norm; Desire to have children; Starting a family; cultural factors; Extended family; Fertility; Family size; Childlessness; Family; Mission statement; Stigma; Only child

classification
Family sociology, sexual sociology

Free keywords
Two-child norm; Two-child family; One-child family; Large family; value of children; Parities; Abundance of children; social pressure

Language document
German

Year of publication
2016

Page reference
Pp. 328-356

Magazine title
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 28 (2016) 3

ISSN
1437-2940

status
Release version; appraised (peer reviewed)

License
Creative Commons Attribution, Share Alike 4.0