Emory Law Journal


Social norms exert a powerful influence on families. They shape major life decisions, such as whether to marry and how many children to have, as well as everyday decisions, such as how to discipline children and divide household labor. Emotion is a defining feature of these familial social norms, giving force and content to norms in contexts as varied as reproductive choice, parenting, and same-sex relationships. These emotion-laden norms do not stand apart from the law. Falling along a continuum of involvement that ranges from direct regulation to choice architecture, state sway over social norms through their emotional valence is an under-recognized aspect of the family-state relationship.