My thinking had no clarity until I realized that in the last decades the Family has appropriated the social functions and contacts that men once sought in the broader arena of the city. This appropriation by the Family of social “spaces” once felt inappropriate for the home has encouraged something perverse in the urban communal relations men have left, and in the Family itself. This perversity is a seeking after solidarity and a fear of experiences that might create complexity or disorder.
The collapsing of Family members to a state of equality often leads, in the same way, to a tragic self-limiting of the experience of Family members.
A few sociologists of the Family have recently been at pains to unravel a “guilt over conflict” syndrome. This syndrome appears in the attitudes of many intense-Family members toward their families. The syndrome is quite simple to state, and it is quite painful to the people caught in it: good families, upright families, are happy; happiness is usually associated with tranquillity; therefore, when conflicts or fights arise in a Family, the Family (and the fighter) must be no good, tarnished, and somehow a failure.
Put another way, this anxiety and guilt over Family conflict really expresses the wish that diversity and ineradicable differences should not exist in the home, for the sake of social order.
A growing minority of young adults, as they acquire Family responsibilities and children, are refusing to make the trek out to the suburbs, and are searching instead for ways to remain in the center of town. The reason for this is that they hope for something “richer” in social life than what the suburb offers.