The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap “Leave It to Beaver” was not a documentary, Stephanie Coontz points out; neither the. By Stephanie Coontz In , I published The Way We Never Were: American Families And The Nostalgia Trap, a search for the supposed. The Way We Never Were has ratings and reviews. Wealhtheow said: Coontz presents the historical facts of American family life and political and.

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It’s a dense read, it took me a while to get through it all I read an updated version, that had coojtz information in the prologue and epilogue. Hesistant to identify her opponents, she doesn’t emphasize it. As mentioned, my one major critique of this book is that its statistics are only useful for someone seeking to understand where American families were in the early s.

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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.

A History of American Childhood. Coontz is not naive enough to think she can exempt herself entirely from the hordes of historians seeking to condense history for the purposes of analysis and communication to a wide audience, fhe she maintains a high level of scholarly integrity by carefully circumscribing the follies of both liberal and conservative ideologies.

Every political cycle we see an increase of claims that the American family is in decline and many of our woes are due to this decline. Want to Read Currently Reading Read.

May 18, Mary rated it it was amazing. We have allowed the myth of self-sustaining nuclear families to strip people of their support networks and glorified a supposed weee that has never existed.

I’ve said for years that this country tends to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to the 50s and early 60s.

The Way We Never Were: American Families & the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz

Gender roles have almost always been determined by economic systems, and throughout history couples have engaged in premarital sex, domestic violence has Coontz presents a much-needed argument on the futility of conservative nostalgia for “the good old days,” chock-full of statistics.


Meeting this Sunday 3 3 Oct 13, Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Other than that, though, the book is excellent. Teenage childbearing peaked in the fabulous family-oriented s There are so many assumptions we make about how life was “back then” that are slightly skewed and even completely incorrect.

But it is also about a number of other subjects, too, including analyzing how families are structured and how they related to the world around them; looking at family structures throughout US history; analyzing the black family to show that black family structures can be different from white ones because of what the black American experience has done to black communities; and looking at why our economic system, not feminism or liberalism, is to blame for the current fragmentation of the US family.

Nathan In the edition he writes that it is what feminism has failed to bring about that limits society and that women working outside has had positive …more In the edition he writes that it is what feminism has failed to bring about that limits society and that women working outside has had positive effects on women, families and America in general. It makes the same or very similar point over and over with a myriad of tidbits of documented American history.

Of course, in order to play this American Family Dream Game, you really did have to be white and middle class. American Families in the Cold War Era.

Change, Continuity, and Diversity. In the penultimate chapter, for example, a crisp reframing of the myth of black-family collapse leads to a reinterpretation of the “family crisis” in general, putting it in the larger context of social, economic, and political ills. The most compelling argument Coontz makes, by far, is that we don’t have a family crisis, we have a community crisis. It’s also good to see economic context accounted for when discussing the US family. Feminism Working Women Consumerism and.

This book reads like a textbook, so those seeking a super-light nonfiction fluff piece should beware, but If you really want to think about how society and culture affect one another over time, this is a great read. The Way We Really Are: And while I’d love to report that we’ve blazed a new trail in the two decades since this book’s original publication, all I can do is marvel at Coontz’s remarkable assessment of American problems and lament our continuing inability to address the core issues that are bringing this country to its knees.


Marriages in pioneer days lasted a shorter time than they do now. Stephanie Coontz is the top historian of the family in America.

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.

Return to Book Page. They believed that motherhood was a political force.

You think that we’ve got new and original family problems these days? Although this book is not entirely up to date, since its focus is on the historical development of the family or families in the U.

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Two models of the American family have been on view in this political season. While pornography, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, neer swearing have always existed, the invention of the television and sitcoms posed the question of how much of it should be nationally on display in our homes every evening.

Americans today are fully engrossed in consumer culture.

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 line The Way We Never Were examines two centuries of American family life and shatters a series of ee and half-truths that burden modern families.

This, in particular, is about our collective past. Families have rarely been economically or socially self-sufficient; families have relied upon governmental assistance from the frontier times and beyond.

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