Societal Contexts for Family Relations: Development, Violence and Stress | Raine Eisler (2016)

The effect of families on whether children do or do not flourish has long been recognized by psychology. However, families do not spring up in isolation from their social, economic, and cultural contexts. As the primary means of socialization, families have to prepare children to function in their larger cultural context. In other words, what we are dealing with is not a matter of simple causes and effects but of mutually supporting interactive systems dynamics.

Analyzing these interactive dynamics has been the focus of my multi-disciplinary cross-cultural historical study of human societies. (Eisler, 1987; 1995; 2000; 2007) This study led to the identification of two underlying cultural configurations that transcend conventional categories such as religious vs. secular, Eastern vs. Western, preindustrial vs. industrial, or rightist vs. leftist: the partnership system and the domination system.

No society is a pure domination or partnership system. However, as I will briefly develop in this chapter, the degree to which a society orients to either end of the partnership/domination continuum affects the kinds of beliefs and behaviors people consider normal or abnormal, moral or immoral, and even possible or impossible – with profound implications for whether or not children flourish. Read More