At the most basic level, this thesis is concerned with the ways that Americans define values. This thesis will explore the connections between popular culture and legislation through the definitions of these values. The thesis begins with an examination of popular culture, discussing the ways in which fatherhood is defined and illustrated through television shows. The study identifies themes presented on television that narrate what roles fathers should play in their family. Long held narratives in popular culture help mold our individual understandings of family. Continuing in the discussion of fatherhood, the thesis then transitions to explore the ways lawmakers define and codify roles for family members through legislation. The sources, The Cosby Show and the 1996 welfare reform each narrate and explain fatherhood with similar connections across the two sources. Ultimately, the thesis explains that while America claims to be a progressive and forward thinking nation, we in fact have a strict and traditional set of norms that we expect people to follow.
Callahan, Claire M., "America’s Cohesive Value System: Fatherhood Through The Cosby Show and Welfare Reform" (2016). American Studies Honors Papers. 10.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.