Resurgent Parenthood: Organic Domestic Ideals and the Southern Family Roots of Conservative Ascendancy, 1980–2005
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Accounts that focus on the “southernization” of the Republican Party and the subsequent conservative ascendance in American party politics emphasize the role of race and civil rights issues, or battles over sex and gender, but none analyze the significance of family in shaping this partisan rightward shift. Meanwhile, literatures in fields other than party politics have engaged family more centrally, highlighting the rising salience of parents to legal and political development. This article connects and contributes to these literatures by analyzing the impact of parenthood and family on political party development. I demonstrate the increasing salience of “parents” as a political ideal in late twentieth-century policy discourse, reveal an overarching organic family frame in which it was used, and trace this frame to Southern domestic ideals and to the growing importance of the South to the Republican Party. In so doing I provide a “family-centered” account of the late twentieth-century conservative ascendancy and suggest the centrality of family – and parenthood – in defining it.