The development in the 1970s of new forms of marriage, different from the traditional civil and religious forms, the rise of the divorce rates, and the decline in birth rates are clear examples of this new culture. Paternal authority, strict family morality, obligations to family members, and the sexual division of the domestic work were replaced by the principle of equality, the relaxation of traditional moral values, and the family opening to the new, opportunistic, outside-the-box world.
At the beginning of the 1980s, a turn to family values is evident (Inglehart 1998). However, this new familism is full of ambiguities. On the one hand, it means the resurgence of the family as an important force. At the same time, it supports an individualistic and narcissistic conception of the family relationships. The current importance given to the family is related to a defense of its affective and emotional functions and its help for personal development. From this new familism, the family group is used as a resource to satisfy the psychological needs of its members (Demo et a1. 2000).
The new familism moves away from the political and social context from which it originated. It can be considered as a psychologized familism, because it answers the concrete needs of personal and individual realization. This familism moves away from the traditional cultural pattern, in which the family was more important than the goals and aspirations of its members, and from the traditional definition of familism.
From the point of view of psychological needs, the ambiguity of the new familism allows very different family politics. Although some approaches defend alternative ways of families, other writers turn to the new familism to stop the advance of a radical individualism, or even to compensate the setback of the state of families' well-being (Popenoe 1988; Garzón 1998, 2000).
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