Standardizing childrearing through housing

Paul C. Luken, Suzanne Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Drawing on oral histories and archival data, we demonstrate how both childrearing and housing practices were directly and indirectly organized around a standardized and codified textual discourse early in the twentieth century in the United States. Using institutional ethnography (IE), we begin with selected experiences of our research participants when they were girls and mothers and explicate these experiences by discovering the social relations that regulate them translocally. We show how the concerted ideological practices of the Children's Bureau, the Own Your Own Home campaign, and the Better Homes in America movement linked proper childrearing practices with a suitable home environment and connected parents with the marketplace for obtaining housing, household goods, and services. We also examine the textual discourse that established the "Standard American Home (SAH)" as the appropriate form of dwelling for infants and children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-331
Number of pages33
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2006


  • Childrearing
  • Housing
  • Institutional ethnography
  • Progressive Era
  • Textually-mediated discourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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