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Family values are political and social beliefs that hold the nuclear family to be the essential unit of society. Familialism is the ideology that promotes the family and its values as an institution.
Although the phrase is vague and has shifting meanings, it is most often associated with social and religious conservatives. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the term has been frequently used in political debate, to claim that the world has seen a decline in family values since the end of the Second World War.
In the United States 
In 1998, a Harris survey found that:
- 52% of women and 42% of men thought family values means "loving, taking care of, and supporting each other"
- 38% of women and 35% of men thought family values means "knowing right from wrong and having good values"
- 2% of women and 1% men thought of family values in terms of the "traditional family"
The survey also noted that 93% of all women thought that society should value all types of families (Harris did not publish the responses for men).
Conservative definitions 
Since 1980, the Republican Party has used the issue of family values to attract socially conservative voters. While family values remains an amorphous concept, social conservatives usually understand the term to include some combination of the following principles (also referenced in the 2004 Republican Party platform):
- Promotion of traditional marriage and opposition to sex outside of marriage
- Support for a traditional role for women in the family.
- Opposition to same-sex marriage
- Support for complementarianism
- Opposition to legalized induced abortion
- Support for abstinence education
- Support for policies that are said to protect children from obscenity and exploitation
Social and religious conservatives often use the term "family values" to promote conservative ideology that supports traditional morality or Christian values. Some American conservative Christians see their religion as the source of morality and consider the nuclear family to be an essential element in society. For example, "The American Family Association exists to motivate and equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth and traditional family values." These groups variously oppose abortion, pornography, pre-marital sex, polygamy, homosexuality, certain aspects of feminism, cohabitation, separation of church and state, legalization of recreational drugs, and depictions of sexuality in the media.
Liberal definitions 
Although the term "family values" remains a core issue for the Republican Party, in recent years the Democratic Party has also used the term, though differing in its definition. For example, in his acceptance speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, John Kerry said "it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families." The Democratic Party definitions of family values often include items that specifically target working families such as support of:
- a living wage
- universal health care
- the acceptance of adoption by gays
- the acceptance of the non-traditional family (single parent households, same-sex marriages)
- social programs and financial aid for families
Other liberals have used the phrase to support such values as family planning, affordable child care, and maternity leave. For example, groups such as People For the American Way, Planned Parenthood, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays have attempted to define the concept in a way that promotes the acceptance of single-parent families, same-sex monogamous relationships and marriage. This understanding of family values does not promote conservative morality, instead focusing on encouraging and supporting alternative family structures, access to contraception and abortion, increasing the minimum wage, sex education, childcare, and parent-friendly employment laws, which provide for maternity leave and leave for medical emergencies involving children.
While conservative sexual ethics focus on preventing premarital or non-procreative sex, liberal sexual ethics are typically directed rather towards consent, regardless of whether or not the partners are married.
Politics and culture 
Australian politics 
The Family First Party originally contested the 2002 South Australian state election, where former Assemblies of God pastor Dr Andrew Evans won one of the eleven seats in the 22-seat South Australian Legislative Council on 4 percent of the state-wide vote. The party made their federal debut at the 2004 general election, electing Steve Fielding on 2 percent of the Victorian vote in the Australian Senate, out of six Victorian senate seats up for election. Both MPs were able to be elected with Australia's Single Transferable Vote and Group voting ticket system in the upper house. The party:
- Opposes abortion
- Opposes euthanasia
- Opposes harm reduction, favouring prevention, zero tolerance, rehabilitation, and avoidance
- Opposes gay adoptions, in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) for gay couples, and does not acknowledge gay civil unions
In the 2007 Australian Election, Family First came under fire for giving preferences in some areas to the Liberty and Democracy Party, a libertarian party that favors legalization of incest, gay marriage, and drug use.
British politics 
Family values was a recurrent theme in the Conservative government of John Major. It caused considerable embarrassment whenever a member of the Government was found to be having an affair. John Major himself, the architect of the policy, was subsequently found to have had an affair with Edwina Currie. Family Values have been revived by the current Conservative Party under David Cameron, forming the backbone of his mantra on social responsibility and related policies, demonstrated by his Marriage Tax allowance policy which would provide tax breaks for married couples.
Chinese culture and Confucianism 
In Confucian thought, family values, familial relationships, ancestor worship, and filial piety (Chinese: 孝; Mandarin: Xiào; Cantonese: Haau) are the primary basis of the philosophical system, and these concepts are seen as virtues to be cultivated.
Filial piety is considered the first virtue in Chinese culture. While China has always had a diversity of religious beliefs, filial piety has been common to almost all of them; for example, Historian Hugh D. R. Baker calls respect for the family the only element common to almost all Chinese believers. These traditions were sometimes enforced by law; during parts of the Han Dynasty, for example, those who neglected ancestor worship could even be subject to corporal punishment.
The term "filial", meaning "of a child", denotes the respect and obedience that a child, originally a son, should show to his parents, especially to his father. This relationship was extended by analogy to a series of five relationships or five cardinal relationships (五倫 Wǔlún):
- ruler and subject (君臣),
- father and son (父子),
- husband and wife (夫婦),
- elder and younger brother (兄弟),
- friend and friend (朋友)
Specific duties were prescribed to each of the participants in these sets of relationships. Such duties were also extended to the dead, where the living stood as sons to their deceased family. This led to the veneration of ancestors. In time, filial piety was also built into the Chinese legal system: a criminal would be punished more harshly if the culprit had committed the crime against a parent, while fathers exercised enormous power over their children. Much the same was true of other unequal relationships.
New Zealand politics 
Family values' politics reached their apex under the social conservative administration of the Third National Government (1975–84), widely criticised for his populist and social conservative views about abortion and homosexuality. Under the Fourth Labour Government (1984–90), homosexuality was decriminalised and abortion access became easier to obtain.
In the early 1990s, New Zealand reformed its electoral system, replacing the first-past-the-post electoral system with the Mixed Member Proportional system. This provided a particular impetus to the formation of separatist conservative Christian political parties, disgruntled at the Fourth National Government (1990–99), which seemed to embrace bipartisan social liberalism to offset Labour's earlier appeal to social liberal voters. Such parties tried to recruit conservative Christian voters to blunt social liberal legislative reforms, but had meagre success in doing so. During the tenure of Fifth Labour Government (1999–2008), prostitution law reform (2003), same-sex civil unions (2005) and the repeal of laws that permitted parental corporal punishment of children (2007) became law.
At present, Family First New Zealand, a 'non-partisan' social conservative lobby group, operates to try to forestall further legislative reforms such as same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. In 2005, conservative Christians tried to pre-emptively ban same-sex marriage in New Zealand through alterations to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, but the bill failed 47 votes to 73 at its first reading. At most, the only durable success such organisations can claim in New Zealand is the continuing criminality of cannabis possession and use under New Zealand's Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
Russian politics 
Federal law of Russian Federation no. 436-FZ of 2010-12-23 “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” lists as information not suitable for children (“18+” rating) information “negating family values and forming disrespect to parents and/or other family members”. It does not contain any separate definition of family values.
Singaporean politics 
Family values is a platform promoted heavily by the Singapore's main political party, the People's Action Party. One MP has described the nature of family values in the city-state to be "almost Victorian in nature." Homosexual acts are banned in Singapore, along with harsh penalties for drug trafficking, and corporal punishment is used in the justice system. 
History of 'family values' in United States politics 
The use of family values as a political term dates back to 1976, when it appeared in the Republican Party platform. Later, the phrase became more widespread after Vice President Dan Quayle used it in a speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. Quayle had also launched a national controversy when he criticized the television program Murphy Brown for a story line that depicted the title character becoming a single mother by choice, citing it as an example of how popular culture contributes to a "poverty of values", saying: "[i]t doesn't help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown—a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman—mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'lifestyle choice'". Quayle's remarks initiated widespread controversy, and have had a continuing effect on U.S. politics. Stephanie Coontz, a professor of family history and the author of several books and essays about the history of marriage, says that this brief remark by Quayle about Murphy Brown "kicked off more than a decade of outcries against the 'collapse of the family'".
Population studies have found that in 2004 and 2008, liberal-voting ("blue") states have lower rates of divorce and teenage pregnancy than conservative-voting ("red") states. June Carbone, author of Red Families vs. Blue Families opines that the driving factor is that people in liberal states tend to wait longer before getting married.
A 2002 government survey found that 95% of adult Americans have had premarital sex. This number has risen slightly from the 1950s, when it was nearly 90%. The median age of first premarital sex has dropped in that time from 20.4 to 17.6.
See also 
- Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
- Christian right
- Communications Decency Act of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
- Compassionate conservatism
- Culture of Life
- Glittering generality
- Homosexual agenda
- Missionary Generation
- Sexual norm
- Social aspects of clothing
- Social conservatism
- Southern strategy
- Victorian morality
- William Bennett
Associated organizations 
- American Decency Association
- American Family Association
- Christian Coalition
- Christian Voice
- Concerned Women for America
- Families First
- Family Research Council
- Focus on the Family
- National Legion of Decency
- Parents Television Council
- Traditional Values Coalition
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting
- Anne Revillard (2006 ) Work/Family Policy in France International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 2006 20(2):133–150
- "Traditional families hit by declining morals, say mothers", Daily Mail
- "Public Opinion on the Family – Family Diversity". Libraryindex.com. Retrieved 2011-01-16. "Questions about family values have generally included issues concerning the current diversity of family structures."
- Republican Family Values[dead link]
- "2004 Republican Party Platform: A Safer World and a More Hopeful America" (PDF). MSNBC. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Kendal P. Mobley. Helen Barrett Montgomery: The Global Mission of Domestic Feminism. Baylor University Press. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "Late Victorian culture assumed that family was the basic model for society and that the relationships and values of the family, which were based on complementarian gender assumptions, ought to be extended into social ..."
- Allan J. Lichtman. White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement. Grove Press. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "The new right put a positive spin on anti-pluralist morality. They weren't just against sinners and feminists; they were the "pro-family" and "pro-life" champions of wholesome "family values." Still, defense of the family meant battling the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), abortion, pornography, gay rights, and gun control."
- Prof. Peter Goodwin Heltzel. Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics. Yale University Press. Retrieved 2007-12-31. "Founded at the same time that the evangelical pro-life movement was gathering stream, Focus was politicized from its inception. In the 1980s Dobson became more involved in politics, focusing on a cluster of issues related to family matters, including abortion, pornography, and the women's movement."
- "Support Our Families". Fami.ly. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
- "American Family Association". Afa.net. 2010-08-06. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
- [dead link]
- Myriam Miedzian, Family Values: American and French Style, The Huffington Post, 2008-05-21
- http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/10/31/walking_the_walk_on_family_values/"For all the Bible Belt talk about family values, it is the people from Kerry's home state, along with their neighbors in the Northeast corridor, who live these values."
- Friedman, Jaclyn; Jessica Valenti (2008). Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape. Seal Press. ISBN 1-58005-257-6.
- Corinna, Heather. "What Is Feminist Sex Education?". Scarleteen. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
- Corinna, Heather (2010-05-11). "How Can Sex Ed Prevent Rape?". Scarleteen. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
- Lewis, Steve (2007-11-06). "Christian party's unholy alliance". Herald Sun.
- Антон Одынец (2011-01-04). "Детей защитят от «вредных» книг и фильмов". Фонтанка.Ру. Archived from the original on 2012-09-29. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- Sections 377 and 377A of the Penal Code (Singapore)
- Stone, Lawrence (November 16–17, 1994). "Family Values in a Historical Perspective" (PDF). THE TANNER LECTURES ON HUMAN VALUES. University of Utah. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
- "For Better, For Worse", The Washington Post, 2005-05-01
- "Red Families Vs. Blue Families". 2010-05-09. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- Jayson, Sharon (2006-12-19). "Most Americans have had premarital sex, study finds". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-22. Based on data from National Survey of Family Growth (2002).
Further reading 
- Bennett, William J., ed. The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. ISBN 0-671-68306-3.
- Coontz, Stephanie. "The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap". New York: Basic Books, 1992. ISBN 0-465-09097-4.
- Coontz, Stephanie. "The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms with America's Changing Families". Basic Books, 1998. ISBN 0-465-09092-3.
- Coontz, Stephanie., ed. "American Families; A Multicultural Reader". London: Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-91574-0.
- Coontz, Stephanie. "Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage". New York: Viking Press, 2005. ISBN 0-670-03407-X.
- Good, Deirdre. Jesus' Family Values (ISBN 1-59627-027-6; ISBN 978-1-59627-027-5), New York: Church Publishing, 2006.
- Shapiro, Ben. Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future (ISBN 0-89526-016-6), Regnery, 2005.
- Stacy, Judith. In the name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Post Modern Age. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press Books, 1996. ISBN 0-8070-0432-4; ISBN 0-8070-0433-2.
- 2004 U.S. Republican Party Platform ("Protecting our Families")
- 2004 U.S. Democratic National Platform ("Strong, Healthy Families")
- Dan Quayle, Speech to the Commonwealth Club of California
- ABC Radio National on Jesus and "family values"