By A. Ainsworth & R. Herrmann

Since the 1950’s, not only have social dynamics changed within the “family hierarchy”, but who makes up the “family” dominated these changes. Mother was female and the nurturer and Father was the fiscal provider. Today, both Father and Mother are simply labels society uses to distinguish the parental figures from the children in the home. Looking to the future, the success of a well-designed kitchen, will be determined not by how beautiful it is or how advanced the gadgets/appliances are filling up the space, but ultimately how well the space functions to support the lifestyle of the user(s).

The Social Structure  of the Family

fam·i·ly [fam-uh-lee, fam-lee] –noun

1. a. a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family.

b. a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for: a single-parent family.

2. the children of one person or one couple collectively.

3. the spouse and children of one person.

In the Past

Photo Courtesy of The Random Musings of a Military Wife

Since the 1950’s, not only have social dynamics changed within the “family hierarchy”, but who makes up the “family” dominated these changes. For example, in 1950, the typical family consisted of a Mother, Father, 2.5 children, namely Dick and Jane) and a dog, Spot (and Mother and Father were undoubtedly “happily married”). Mother was female and the nurturer and Father was male and the fiscal provider. Father brought home the “dough” and Mother took her rightful place in the kitchen and baked it. “As seen by self-help writers in the 1950s, the successful handling of both internal and institutional constraints was a key to happiness. Happiness was achieved by the mature individual who settled into work and family roles and learned to be socially cooperative, despite his compartmentalized and conflict-ridden self.” (Thomson, 505)

 Present Day

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Today, both Father and Mother are simply labels society uses to distinguish the parental figures from the children in the home. Furthermore, society recognizes homosexuals, single males and females, grandparents, godparents, friends, etc. as eligible parents, (and although happy, quite possibly unmarried). Those who make up the children in the family are derived through surrogates, adoption, foster care, medical inducement, etc. So too does the family pet now range from a dog to a monkey.

“By the mid-1970s, socially significant changes were causing an acute awareness of the increasing complexity of family life cycle types… Variations from the traditional schedule of family events were resulting from more adults delaying marriage…the pro-portion of families being maintained by one parent was climbing fast. More children were becoming members of stepfamilies. More young adults appeared likely never to marry, more were having children out of wedlock, and more who did marry were childless. Therefore, the original concept of the family life cycle that applied only to primary marriages was obviously becoming inadequate.” (Glick, 124)

The American Family is, in its own right, the “melting pot”. Culture, race, gender, ethnicity, age, etc. have become the ingredients to creating the perfect, imperfect family. The idea that an individual can “design” his/her own family, is revolutionary. It is no wonder as to the continued rise in immigration each year and why Americans are prouder than ever to be, simply, American. The Freedom of Choice.

This key phrase “freedom of choice”, has allowed the resurgence of interior design as today’s trendiest vehicle for which an individual can use to, not only display his/her unique individuality, but create spaces that adequately function to suit his/her specific needs. A “man’s” home is indeed his/her palace. Whether it be a 350 square foot apartment or a sprawling mansion, the home is a testament of the inhabitant(s). Furthermore, the kitchen, the nucleus of the home, dictates the lifestyle of the individual(s) in that home. With society’s ever changing and evolving “family”, the concept of the “open floor plan” dominates kitchen design. To make a philosophical point, a kitchen without walls is a space without boundaries. The title Kitchen then becomes another label that is used to simply distinguish it from the other rooms of the house. Furthermore, to emphasize the evolvement of not only the family social structure, but kitchen design as well, the name in and of itself, Kitchen, no longer implies that it is neither the woman’s domain nor where just a meal is prepared. It is a place where socializing, nurturing, educating, learning, playing, experimenting, working, eating and cooking take place.

Moving Forward

“Advancement in educational level has been an indispensable precursor of modern technological developments, but associated with this advancement has come an erosion of traditional perspectives. The extension of education has resulted in the rapid diffusion of ideas that affect the motivation of individuals about forming families and rearing children.” (Glick 127)

Looking to the future, the success of a well-designed space, notably the kitchen, will be determined not by how beautiful it is or how advanced the gadgets/appliances are filling up the space, but ultimately how well the space functions to support the lifestyle of the user(s).

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

The question, “what is the kitchen of the future”, is one that demands feedback from its user(s). In theory, Kitchen and Mother are synonymous. As mentioned before, it does not matter who plays the role of Mother nor what “she” (aka the kitchen) looks like, but it does matter that Mother/Kitchen provide an adaptable, inviting and nurturing environment.

Bibliography

The Family Life Cycle and Social Change: http://www.jstor.org/stable/583663

Historical Perspectives on Family Studies: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1566740

Individualism and Conformity in the 1950s vs. the 1980s: http://www.jstor.org/stable/684662

Teasing out the Lessons of the 1960s: Family Diversity and Family Privilege: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1566784

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