The Way We Never Were
American Families and the Nostalgia Trap
By (author) Stephanie Coontz
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Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz
Book DescriptionThe Way We Never Were examines two centuries of American family life and shatters a series of myths and half-truths that burden modern families. Placing current family dilemmas in the context of far-reaching economic, political, and demographic changes, Coontz sheds new light on such contemporary concerns as parenting, privacy, love, the division of labor along gender lines, the black family, feminism, and sexual practice.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780465090976
(203mm x 135mm x 30mm)
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 15-Sep-1993
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Stephanie Coontz
Way We Never Were, Paperback (April 2016)
The Way We Never Were examines two centuries of American family life and shatters a series of myths and half-truths that burden modern families. Placing current family dilemmas in the context of far-
Strange Stirring, Paperback (March 2012)
"An illuminating analysis of the book that helped launch the movement that freed women to participate more fully in American society."--Wall Street Journal
American Families, Paperback (April 2008)
American families have become more ethnically diverse than ever before. Different family forms and living arrangements have also multiplied, with single-parent families, divorced couples with children, and newly-visible same-sex families. This book explores the interactions between race-ethnicity, class, and sexuality in shaping family life.
Way We Really are, Paperback (April 1998)» View all books by Stephanie Coontz
This text is a guide to the causes and consequences of today's family trends, demonstrating that historically-informed perspective can be as helpful in sorting through many family dilemmas as going into therapy and much more help than listening to today's political debates.
US Kirkus Review » Placing the American family in its historical, cultural, economic, and philosophic context, Coontz (co-ed., Women's Work, Men's Property, 1986) identifies the myths - and their sources, functions, and fallacies - that Americans generate around family life, as well as the terrible burden these illusions create. Violence, abuse, poverty, ignorance, alcoholism, dependence on government support - in brief, all the social ills attributed to the breakdown of the family - have in fact been a part of American social life since Colonial times, Coontz says. She further argues that our ideal of family life is primarily an invention of the 50's, projected in TV sitcoms such as Leave It to Beaver, and is an ideal as pernicious as are the social problems it supposedly prevents. Families always have been diverse and fragile, shaped by a community of interdependencies and reciprocities easily lost. Even the division of labor between the nurturing, altruistic female and the aggressive, competitive male - to whom she is supposedly connected by a bond of love - is an illusion and a source of great unhappiness. Indeed, many of the problems in family life, Coontz says, are caused by the unfounded belief that the family should be a symbol of strength, a model of serf-sufficiency, a center of values in which people find refuge and raise children who will be good citizens. Today, the survival of the family depends on realistically assessing its diversity and what it can and can't do; on its overcoming the fantasies of what it is supposed to be and how it is supposed to function; and on its recovering its civic commitments. Clear, incisive, and distinguished by Coontz's personal conviction and by its vast range of cogent examples, including capsule histories of women in the labor force and of black families. Fascinating, persuasive, politically relevant. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Stephanie Coontz
Stephanie Coontz is a member of the faculty of Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, where she is a historian and an expert on American culture.
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