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Elinor Ochs and the Center on the Everyday Lives of Families

  • Published Jan 17, 2006 8:00 AM

An in-depth look at the American family

Elinor Ochs doesn't fit the romantic stereotype of the anthropologist, off to distant lands to discover exotic cultures.

Ochs works right here in Los Angeles. Her focus? Middle class parents facing the dual challenges of making a living and raising a family.

At UCLA's Center on the Everyday Lives of Families, her research team includes anthropologists, archaeologists, clinical psychologists and other specialists. They're taking an in-depth look at the lives of 32 middle class families, each with two children and two parents working outside the home.

With 32 families times seven days of videotaping, questionnaires, voice recordings and even saliva samples, there's a great deal of data left to analzye. But Ochs has already noticed some troubling trends.

"American families are very child-centered," Ochs says. "But it may have reached a tipping point where perhaps we've moved from being child-centered to being child-dominated."

The Center on the Everyday Lives of Families is funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.