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The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap (1992)

av Stephanie Coontz

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
827919,449 (3.84)20
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-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.… (mer)
  1. 20
    The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things av Barry Glassner (Othemts)
    Othemts: A lot of politics and punditry are based on mythology of how America used to be better and how its so bad today. Read "The Way We Never Were" and "The Culture of Fear" to help the scales fall from your eyes and see the truth behind these myths.
  2. 10
    Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood av Steven Mintz (Othemts)
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Funny how we remember things. As a child I did believe everything I was told and saw on the TV. I highly recommend this book. It is fun and recalls many memories. Odd too is how we thought of things then and how we think of them today. I will share this experience with friends and recommend they purchase a copy. ( )
  mable1002000 | Aug 12, 2018 |
This should be required reading! ( )
  Lindoula | Sep 25, 2017 |
Coontz presents the historical facts of American family life and political and economic movements in hopes of demonstrating that the families of the past were not so idyllic and the families of the present are not so dysfunctional as they are often portrayed. She argues that historical mythologizing about family life distracts us from constructively examining how best to serve families and communities. She points out that drug abuse was more widespread a hundred years ago, alcohol consumption was three times higher, and prostitution and serious sexually transmitted infections were more prevalent. The US has had the highest homicide rates in the industrial world for 150 years, and we had sadistic lynch mobs and teen murderers long before violent video games or gay people could be blamed. The 1950s was an extremely atypical economic period, with higher job security , more affordable housing, and less income inequality...but these were not due to 1950s family practices but rather the time's economic and political support systems for families. Families have rarely been economically or socially self-sufficient; families have relied upon governmental assistance from the frontier times and beyond. By correcting these sorts of historical distortions, Coontz frees us up to learn the actual lessons of the past: that children can thrive in a wide variety of caregiving arrangements, that racist and sexist assumptions harm our families and children, and that poverty and economic insecurity have a huge impact on personal and family dysfunction. Coontz ends her introduction with this:

"As long as our view of family change is refracted through the lens of nostalgia for the past, we will not be able to see a way forward. But by learning how complex and multifaceted the experience of family life has been in the past, along with the trade-offs, reversals, and diverse outcomes that have accompanied change, we may be able to develop a greater tolerance for the ambiguities of contemporary family life, rather than longing for a past that was never as idyllic or uncomplicated as we sometimes imagine...Only when we have a realistic idea of how families have and have not worked in the past can we make informed decisions about how to support families in the present and improve our future."

I thought the book was well argued and drew upon a good variety of sources. She cites well and often. Truthfully, I want to own this book so I can return to it often. ( )
1 rösta wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Also known as: Everything You Know About the American Family and the Social State Is Wrong, or, other lies your grandparents told you.

A little dry, in the endless evocation of statistics, but that's what gives it its power. It's certainly depressing, I think, because it points out the systematic failures of policy and rhetoric that has not been, you know, based in reality, so it's hard to avoid the sense that the whole problem of policy and myth and whatnot is just unsolvable. But it's really good at intersectionality, and the tone is clear and refreshingly direct throughout. ( )
1 rösta cricketbats | Mar 30, 2013 |
If there's one thing that's great about this book is that it dismantles the myth that middle class white people "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" to get where they are now. The GI Bill, highway system, low-interest mortgages and much more government aid helped build the middle class after World War II. Of course there's much more in this book about the mythology of the Golden Age of America's past and that makes it all the better still. A great book and recommended reading for all Americans. ( )
2 rösta Othemts | Nov 7, 2008 |
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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-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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