American Families Past and Present: Social Perspectives on Transformations
American families today are noted for their wide variety of guises. Among the mix are single-parent families, childless-by-choice marriages, nuclear families, multigenerational families, and same-sex couples. Although this diversity has come under the scrutiny of everyone from politicians to the media, family diversity is not a recent development of contemporary culture. While nuclear families with a mother, a father, and children are the presumed historical norm, people have always resided in an assortment of family formations.
Bringing together essays by twenty-one distinguished scholars who have helped shape the field of family sociology in the last decade, this interdisciplinary anthology examines variation within family experience, especially as it has evolved across racial, ethnic, social, gender, and generational lines. The essays place historical and institutional frameworks at the center of the discussion.
The first part of the book focuses on the development of socially constructed dominant ideologies, demographic shifts in family composition, and historical perspectives on family rituals and mythmaking. Essays in the second part provide a historical perspective on the interdependence between the family as a social institution and other institutions. Selections highlight changes in women's roles, the impact of economic, racial, and social inequalities on household labor and child care, the effects of war and military service, and the implications of the political climate for family welfare policy.
In-depth chapter introductions along with critical questions to spark class discussion make this an ideal text for courses focusing on family composition, trends, and controversies in the United States.
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Family Transformations in SocialHistorical Perspective
Bastardy Fitness and the Invention of Adolescence
The Modernization of Grandparenthood
Historical Perspectives on Family Diversity
Bringing Women Back
Multigenerational Families in NineteenthCentury America
Calling Cards and Money
The Invention of Family Times
Americas Home Front Children in World War II
Cold War Warm Hearth
Racial Ethnic Women
The Arduous Transition to the Industrial North
Who Deserves Help? Who Must Provide?
Money and Morality
Child Care and Social Citizenship for Women
Leave Policy from
with Family Formations
Medicine and Sciences Influence on Fertility and Mothering Behavior
Women and Infertility
List of Contributors