Jeffrey Bell, author of the forthcoming book, Social Conservatism: The Movement that Polarized American Politics, has a helpful overview column on the history, strengths, and weaknesses of "social conservatism."
Conclusion: "Put aside the stereotypes. Whatever its virtues or flaws, social conservatism isn't going away. It is not, and never was, the crazy aunt in the attic. It continues to be the essential building block of Republican presidential majorities."