Let us call this crisis that commenced in September of 2008 the “Grand Recession” for this is when the kids move back in with the grand parents.
In my opinion, the nuclear family as almost no one seems to notice, was a post 1945 invention. Wha? you say. True, for before 1945 only Los Alamos fellows were mouthing the term nuclear, for only they and a few physics geeks knew of the term. And no one used that term to refer to family. Yes the terms nuclear and nucleus were around, the second used in biology, the first in a very rare (still) corner of physics.
But after 1945 with the atomic bomb the cat was out of the bag; Bigtime. After that even sociologists began to use the term.
Funny question- what was the family unit without grandparents called prior to the 3 networks, Ozzy and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and Leave It to Beaver? Never had society had such a unifying force as Television and never that I know of has there been such conformity as during the 1950’s in America. A huge pulse of wealth, with everyone getting appliances and televisions and new cars…. and they were able to start a new home without family help. How often has that happened in history?
Well yes, we had the homestead act, where a family could obtain 160 acres early on by establishing a claim, but that was not easy. Only about 40% of those who tried succeeded. It was not easy for ma, paw, and the kids to make a go of it all by themselves. Tough work plus one needed experience, a three generation family had a much better chance. In the end, only about 10% of US land was homesteaded. Like military spending today, in times past the lions share of riches went to well connected corporations, foremost among those were the railroads.
Thus as we industrialized, urbanized and suburbanized after WWII it was easy and common to create a nuclear family. We had the middle class. But in the 50’s and 60’s middle class was an economic term, now it is a political term.
Have you noted that as time passed, only fogies and those graying baby boomers watch the boob tube. The young and mobile use their mobile device or laptop. The internet maps for the current generation what TV mapped for the boomers, and only when the recession pushes them together do they realize their media incompatibility.
So we are in the grand recession and will not lift ourselves out of it until we realize that out political, economic and media formats no longer map what is.