Pro-Family Organizations in Calgary, 1998: Beliefs, Interconnections and Allies [*]

By Anderson, Gillian; Langford, Tom | The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, February 2001 | Go to article overview

Pro-Family Organizations in Calgary, 1998: Beliefs, Interconnections and Allies [*]


Anderson, Gillian, Langford, Tom, The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology


Dans cet article, nous comparons les convictions des differents groupes pro-famille de Calgary et nous presentons la structure des liens qui unissent ces groupes. Les donnees, recueillies en 1998, proviennent de documents et d'entretiens semi-structures avec les chefs de file de ces groupes. Nous abordons ici trois problemes de recherche. Tout d'abord, nous examinons la teneur des relations entre groupes pro-famille et pro-vie. Tous les groupes pro-famille, meme ceux qui se prononcent resolument contre l'avortement, se distinguent des groupes pro-vie sur le plan tant organisationnel que politique. Ensuite, nous nous penchons sur le role des croyances chretiennes au sein du mouvement. Nous affirmons que, bien que les groupes chretiens aient ete dominants en 1998, la promotion de la famille heterosexuelle nucleaire, et non les questions de doctrine, a ete fondamentale pour le mouvement. Enfin, nous examinons si le mouvement s'est scinde entre socioconservateurs et centristes, les centristes etant peu representa tifs en 1998. En outre, l'un des groupes presentant un profil centriste, la National Foundation for Family Research and Education, a tout fait pour legitimer du point de vue scientifique les arguments moraux des socioconservateurs en faveur de la famille. En conclusion, nous soutenons que le mouvement pro-famille a Calgary s'est eloigne de sa vocation initiale de contre-mouvement antifeministe. Dans l'avenir, la popularite du mouvement pro-famille au Canada dependra peut-etre des valeurs postfeministes qu'il affichera.

This paper presents a comparative study of the beliefs of pro-family organizations in Calgary and a structural mapping of organizational ties. Data were gathered in 1998 from documents and semi-structured interviews with group leaders. Three research problems are addressed. The first concerns the closeness of the relationship between pro-family and pro-life groups. We find that all pro-family groups, even those with strong anti-abortion convictions, were organizationally and politically distinctive from pro-life groups. The second problem considers the role of Christian beliefs in the movement. We ascertain that although Christian groups were dominant in 1998, promotion of the heterosexual nuclear family, not doctrinal issues, was fundamental to the movement. The third problem concerns whether the movement was bifurcated between social conservative and centrist segments. The centrist segment was quite weak in 1998. Furthermore, one of the groups with a centrist persona, the National Foundation for Family Rese arch and Education, strove to supply scientific legitimation for social conservatives' moral claims about the family. In conclusion, the article argues that the pro-family movement in Calgary has broken free of its initial phase as an anti-feminist countermovement and suggests that the future popularity of profamily advocacy in Canada will be proportional to the degree that it is couched in a post-feminist framework.

IN 1981 A SMALL GROUP OF WOMEN with strong anti-abortion convictions had a falling out with the pro-choice leadership of the Alberta Status of Women Action Committee (ASWAC). In response they formed a new organization, Alberta Women of Worth (Erwin, 1990: 70), which later became the Alberta Federation of Women United for Families (AFWUF). [1] AFWUF was the first of a number of organizations that formed in Canada in the 1980s and 1990s with the aim of promoting the virtues and efficacy of the heterosexual nuclear family; taken together, such organizations and their supporters are often referred to as the "family values," "back-to-the-family" or "profamily" movement. The pro-family movement has been a prominent player in a number of public policy discussions in recent years, with perhaps its best known stands being opposition to extending the legal definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples, and support for decreases in the taxes paid by the single-earner family with a stay-at-home parent.

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