Watching Families Is Purest form of birth control ever devised

UCLA researchers put 32 families under the microscope:

Baby Factory

At a conference here this month, more than 70 social scientists gathered to bring to a close one of the most unusual, and oddly voyeuristic, anthropological studies ever conceived. From 2002 to 2005, before reality TV ruled the earth, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, laboriously recruited 32 local families, videotaping nearly every waking, at-home moment during a week — including the Jacket Standoff.

…But the U.C.L.A. project was an attempt to capture a relatively new sociological species: the dual-earner, multiple-child, middle-class American household. The investigators have just finished working through the 1,540 hours of videotape, coding and categorizing every hug, every tantrum, every soul-draining search for a missing soccer cleat.

“This is the richest, most detailed, most complete database of middle-class family living in the world,” said Thomas S. Weisner, a professor of anthropology at U.C.L.A. who was not involved in the research. “What it does is hold up a mirror to people. They laugh. They cringe. It shows us life as it is actually lived.”

After more than $9 million and untold thousands of hours of video watching, they have found that, well, life in these trenches is exactly what it looks like: a fire shower of stress, multitasking and mutual nitpicking. And the researchers found plenty to nitpick themselves.

(click to continue reading Every Hug, Every Fuss – Scientists Record Families’ Daily Lives –

and the most true thing I’ve read in days:

after a while, they said, family members shrugged off the cameras and relaxed.

The same cannot be said of the fieldworkers, most of them childless graduate students seeing combat for the first time. “The very purest form of birth control ever devised. Ever,” said one, Anthony P. Graesch, a postdoctoral fellow, about the experience.

Oh, indeed. I’m glad the human race is continuing 1, and that families exist, but I’m also positive I don’t have the patience or stamina to have my own.

  1. well, usually. Overpopulation is an abstraction, but I’ve met plenty of cool kids []

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