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The Future of Family (IF Discussion Guide)

The 48-page discussion guide, The Future of Family, was edited by Jeff Prudhomme and Jack Byrd, and published from Interactivity Foundation in the fall 2013. This guide explores the evolving ways in which families are shaped, and takes  into consideration how to shape policy with the varying ways in which family is defined. In this guide are nine contrasting public policy options concerning the family unit for participants to explore regarding how policy questions and concerns.

You can view the discussion guide in full on IF’s site and it can also be downloaded as a PDF for free here.

From the introduction…

What makes a family a family? Who should get to decide the answer to this question? What does family mean to us as a society? When does the notion of family become a matter of public concern? What might the future hold in store? These are the kinds of questions at the root of the following exploration of the future of the family.

Our idea of family continues to shift with changes in cultural norms and in demographics. In a culturally diverse society, what roles should cultural heritage play in policy decisions about the family? Different cultures have different ideas about how families are formed, how big they should be, and the roles people have within them. Speaking of different family roles, what about changing our ideas about gender roles and of human sexuality? How might public policy for the family take these into account?

Other social changes will impact our family policies. If we face an increasingly aging or mobile population, what concerns might arise for families? What about the economic concerns facing families? How might public policy respond to each and all of these concerns? What are the values or moral considerations that might shape these policies? What are the rights and responsibilities in regard to the family that public policy should take into account? How should we approach the relationship between political power and the family? What are other moral, legal, or political concerns that our family policies might need to address?

A group of 12 of your fellow citizens worked together to think through questions such as these as they explored the future of the family. This discussion project was unique in that it involved the participation of Interactivity Foundation fellows and staff as a way to provide them with direct experience as participants in our discussion process. Still, as with all of our reports, the ideas presented for discussion do not represent the opinions or policy recommendations of the participants or of the Interactivity Foundation itself. The goal of the participants was to think broadly about various concerns about the family as a public matter. Participants went on the generate contrasting ways that our society could address these concerns. These contrasting approaches are captured here as nine conceptual policy possibilities.

In what follows, you’ll find a brief description of the policy approaches our society might take as it seeks to address policy questions and concerns regarding the family unit. What the panelists have to offer are ideas that could be useful for you to discuss as your consider the future of the family in a democratic society such as our own.

The PDF version of this report is available for download here

About the Interactivity Foundation
The Interactivity Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to enhance the process and expand the scope of our public discussions through facilitated small-group discussion of multiple and contrasting possibilities. The Foundation does not engage in political advocacy for itself, any other organization or group, or on behalf of any of the policy possibilities described in its discussion guidebooks. For more information, see the Foundation’s website at www.interactivityfoundation.org.

Follow on Twitter: @IFTalks.

Resource Link: www.interactivityfoundation.org/new-discussion-guidebook-future-family/

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