Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Constructions of parental authority: Comparison and contrast of authoritative parenting, 1968 and 1995

Joan Friebely, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Diana Baumrind's identification in the 1960s of authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting styles, as well as her demonstration of correlations between optimal developmental outcomes and the authoritative style, continue to have profound influences on how child socialization is thought about and researched. But, times have changed. Cultural psychology's assumption of intentional individuals and intentional cultures co-constructing each other allows for the possibility that historically mediated sociocultural differences between the 1960s and 1990s may have influenced childrearing practices and outcomes. For this study, instruments used by Baumrind were adapted to investigate cultural ideals and families today. Middle-class, urban, Northeastern families in which parents (n = 10) of preschool children appeared to meet criteria for the authoritative style were studied in depth. Although the ratios of nurturance and demandingness appear to be comparable in the two time periods among authoritative parents, 1990s parents show substantially more conformist and authoritarian attitudes than did their predecessors. Whereas attitudes of 1960s authoritative parents support children in speaking their minds, 1990s authoritative parents support children in minding their speech. This change is interpreted as a function of historical changes in parents' creative intuitions that optimal developmental outcomes are now less related to the 1960s discourse of agency, and more related to the 1990s agency of discourse. As a consequence, what may appear to be a matter of authoritarianism on the parts of parents is interpreted here as greater vigilance regarding the significance of speech acts for succeeding in the 21st century.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Preschool education|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Friebely, Joan, "Constructions of parental authority: Comparison and contrast of authoritative parenting, 1968 and 1995" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9638958.