IT IS NORMAL for trivial subjects to make the headlines, whereas important subjects, ideas that shake cultures to their foundations, are often on the last page of the newspaper where they are ignored by most. One such subject is “Post Familialism,” the idea that our society is moving into a post family phase. Two recent scholarly articles in New Geography Magazine are making precisely this point. The first, published last Fall, can be found here. The second, published a few weeks ago, can be found here.  

     This is no small finding. The authors sum it up this way. “For most of human history, the family — defined by parents, children and extended kin — has stood as the central unit of society. In Europe, Asia, Africa and, later, the Americas and Oceania, people lived, and frequently worked, as family units.

     Today, in the high-income world and even in some developing countries, we are witnessing a shift to a new social model. Increasingly, family no longer serves as the central organizing feature of society. An unprecedented number of individuals — approaching upwards of 30% in some Asian countries — are choosing to eschew child bearing altogether and, often, marriage as well.” 
     The authors note the only exception to this trend are families that are organized around deep religious commitments. In other words, to the degree that people succumb to secularism the traditional family is in danger of disappearance. 
     The symptoms of Post-Familialism are reluctance to marry, and a reluctance to have children. If this trend proves to be a long term, it will be a disaster.