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The evolution of a profession : from home economics to family and consumer sciences

Click to view the dissertation via Digital dissertation consortium
Author Richards, Martha Virginia.
ISBN/ISSN 0591863316
Broad Subject Education
Summary This study examined the evolution of the field of home economics to the field of family and consumer sciences by documenting higher education issues which inevitably led to the changing of the names of many home economics units. The study explored gradual core curriculum change and redefinition of the field in 19 universities by examining archival documents. In addition, the study chronicled the activities of administrators and institutions involved in name change and reconceptualization of the field as it refocused in a post-modern environment.

The research questions addressed included the following: (1) How has home economics evolved to its present state as the field of family and consumer sciences? (2) What is the relationship of home economics core curriculum courses to current core curriculum courses in historically home economics academic units? (3) What individuals and institutions have assisted in the evolution of home economics to family and consumer sciences?

Answers to these research questions emerged from three research thrusts: the examination of historical writings, the study of archival documents, and the analysis of oral testimony. The study of historical documents revealed cultural and societal changes which facilitated the evolution of the field of home economics. Secondly, the transition was documented by examining archival documents in order to discover core curriculum changes and to document the name change process at one university. Thirdly, oral testimony related a critique by individual administrators who led the field.

Home economics evolved to family and consumer sciences as a result of massive societal upheaval which profoundly affected its central focus,the home and family. As the central focus of home economics moved away from the work of the home, a new common conception failed to emerge. The plethora of names in academic units has escalated a fragmenting of the field and increased confusion about its purpose and focus. The study of normative documents, core curriculum, activities of administrators, and the case of name change at one university has shown the issues and philosophies which emerged during the decade of the 1980s.

Language English
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