The Moral Lives of Children Project
The Culture of American Families
Much today is written about the impact of technology, the media, peer groups, consumption, and schools on our nation’s children, yet the obvious is often overlooked. Missing from this picture is the impact that interactions between parents and children at home make. The Culture of American Families Project is a three-year investigation of the home cultures that are molding the next generation of American adults. Generously funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the project's first phase included a national survey of 3,000 parents of school-age children. The second phase engaged 101 parents from the larger sample in intensive, in-person interviews. Findings from both studies will be disseminated broadly to scholars, journalists, educators, parenting organizations, policy makers, and last but not least, to parents themselves.
Like The State of Disunion, The Politics of Character, and other Institute surveys before it, the Culture of American Families Project adapts the tools of contemporary social science to an investigation that is broadly interpretive and contextual. Our goal is to distinguish the diverse moral narratives that are crafted in the daily interactions between parents and children. What are the treasured hopes, deepest fears, and most pressing challenges of today's parents? Where do they turn for support? What role, if any, do understandings of “character” have to play in the lessons children learn? Is contemporary life too fluid to anchor in stable, shared convictions? What does it mean to be a “good parent” or a “good child” in an era when moral signposts point in multiple directions? These questions, which do not lend themselves to easy answers, drive our research.
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Project Research Team
- Carl Desportes Bowman, Project Director
- James Davison Hunter, Project Director
- Ashley Rogers Berner, Director of Public Engagement
- Joseph E. Davis, Project Consultant
- Jeffrey Dill, Director of Interviews
- Megan Juelfs-Swanson, Research Assistant
- Tony Tian-Ren Lin, Research Fellow
This project is generously funded by the John Templeton Foundation: www.templeton.org