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Capitalizing on the New Normal
As we detailed in our New Social Systems Deep Dive report, a growing mistrust of institutions is driving a seismic shift in values in the United States. As Americans look beyond traditional values, a new set of ideals, beliefs and systems are starting to emerge.
From the rise of atheism and non-traditional spirituality to the fragmentary nature of the modern workplace, we are seeing new practices and narratives develop around what is considered normal and acceptable.
Perhaps nowhere are these social changes more visible than in the shifting structure of the modern family. Single parent families, same sex parents, and communal “families” are more common than ever. Researchers estimate that only 50% of children will grow up in households with two married adults who are their biological parents. This shift in family life has been clearly reflected in popular culture, as seen in mainstream television shows like Modern Family and The New Normal. (See our timeline of Non Traditional Families in TV History). And as family life in America evolves, entrepreneurs are launching businesses that capitalize on serving the needs of the new-look American family.
Relations by Choice
Melanie Notkin is the founder and CEO of Savvy Auntie, a multi-platform media business that serves “cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids.”
"Young parents are stretched to the limit managing their household income while taking care of their children,” says Notkin. “The rise of the Savvy Auntie, the caring aunt by relation or aunt by choice who generously offers time, financial support and gifts parents cannot afford, is an important - yet mostly unacknowledged - bright side to the transformation of the millennial American Family.”
With changing demographic and social patterns, the number of women who have not yet become mothers by the time they are 29 has risen dramatically. In 1976, only 31 percent of American women 25-29 were childless; by 2008, that number had risen to 46 percent. And by 2010, nearly half of American women between the ages of 15-44 remained childless.
Seeing opportunity in this untapped market she dubbed PANKs (Professional Aunts, No Kids), Notkin launched SavvyAuntie.com in 2008. In the four years since, the business has expanded to include a bestselling book, a national holiday (Auntie's Day), and a large and engaged social media following.
“The childless Savvy Auntie is helping to support the family in ways reminiscent of the communal village. Never before has the phrase ‘it takes a village’ been so right in the heart of the Zeitgeist of new social structures and the American family,” Notkin told us.
Designing a Family
While dynamics of existing families are changing, new families are also being fostered in unconventional ways.
Launched this month, Family By Design is an online community where new parenting partnerships can be established between single adults looking for a partner with whom to parent. The site offers guidance and a system for people - irrespective of gender or sexual orientation - to connect with each other and explore the possibility of having a baby together. A proprietary “parenting partner matching algorithm” helps to match couples, comparing member responses to sync up goals, values and parenting outlooks.
What’s driving this new paradigm? According to Darren Spedale, the founder of Family By Design, there are 5 million adults in the U.S. in their mid-30s and above who are single, childless, and still want to become parents. In addition, the Pew Foundation found in their 2010 nationwide poll of Millennials that while only 30% think that having a good marriage will be one of the most important things in their life, 52% believe that being a good parent will be one of the most important things - indicating a growing detachment between the concepts of marriage and parenthood.
With evolving values driving opportunities to service potential and existing families in new fashions, we expect to see continued innovation in the marketplace. Do you have a great business idea to capitalize on these new types of family structures? Let us know in the comments below.
sparks & honey is a next generation agency that helps brands synchronize with culture. Download our New Social Systems Report here.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think.
Women today are founding more businesses than ever. In 2018, they made up 40% of new entrepreneurs, yet in that same year, they received just 2.2% of all venture capital investment. The playing field is off-balance. So what can women do?
In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
Parental anxieties stem from the complex relationship between technology, child development, and the internet's trove of unseemly content.