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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • November 2009
  • ISBN 978-0-393-93278-2
  • 6.1 × 9.3 in / 576 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

More Books

  1. Sociology

Appropriate For

  1. Sociology
    1. Families

Families as They Really Are


Barbara J. Risman (Editor, University of Illinois, Chicago)


A fresh collection of original essays by leading scholars that focuses on how families operate in everyday life: what they are, how they work, and why they matter.

Families as They Really Are goes to the heart of the family values debate by reframing the question about families from “Are they breaking down?” to “Where are they going, how, and why?”

Essays in the book are not reprints; you won’t find them anywhere else. Each article is a new contribution to the research and theory about families, drawn from an interdisciplinary community of experts.

The four parts of Families as They Really Are focus on how we got to where we are today, what’s happening in relationships, youth in the 21st century, and the state of the gender revolution.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Here’s a book destined to make publishers of textbooks on U.S. family studies tremble. Families as They Really Are is bursting its generous seams with lively, lucid, authoritative, original essays on every form and facet of contemporary family life. This fabulous collection presents work by a cavalcade of the field’s most preeminent and creative scholars. No textbook can possibly compete.” — Judith Stacey, author, In the Name of the Family

Families as They Really Are is an anthology as it really should be—an admirably comprehensive collection of provocative essays by the top scholars studying families today.” — Brian Powell, Indiana University

“This incredibly useful book goes well beyond rebutting myths about family change to provide succinct and highly readable introductions to practically every controversial family issue on the public agenda today. The attention to how class, race, gender and sexuality challenge families and shape family concerns is thoughtful and balanced.” — Myra Marx Ferree, University of Wisconsin

“The story of America’s families is too often narrowed to fit a predetermined theme. Instead, this collection presents powerful, well-written new work by a diverse roundtable of social scientists, whose wealth of research expertise is matched by a common commitment to clarity without over-simplification.” — Philip Cohen, University of North Carolina

Families as They Really Are is a dream edited collection--solid sociology from leading scholars yet also readable and real.” — Mary Blair-Loy, University of California, San Diego

Original essays written with undergraduate readers in mind

Editor Barbara Risman has pulled together a team of contributors and charged them with writing essays intended for undergraduates. Critical thinking questions are included at the end of each part to help students see the big picture.

An unprecedented collection of interdisciplinary scholars on the family

Essay authors are leading scholars in sociology, psychology, history, and law—the best qualified to introduce readers to contemporary research on the state of families today. Authors include Andrew J. Cherlin, Stephanie Coontz, Kathleen Gerson, Steven Mintz, Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., and more.

“In the News” features connect research findings to real life

Each section of Families as They Really Are includes examples of the mass media’s reception of research findings by the book’s contributors. The “In the News” boxes highlight controversies or articles that discuss or question social research findings, giving students an opportunity to see how social scientists can use their research to affect the public conversation.

    Introduction: Springing Forward from the Past

    Barbara J. Risman, Springing Forward from the Past

    Andrew J. Cherlin, One Thousand and Forty-Nine Reasons Why It’s Hard to Know When a Fact is a Fact

    Philip A. Cowan, When Is a Relationship between Facts a Causal One?

    Linda Burton, Uncovering Hidden Facts That Matter in Interpreting Individuals’ Behaviors: An Ethnographic Lens

    In the News: Not Much Sense in Those Census Stories (Washington Post)

    Part I: How We Got Here

    Stephanie Coontz, The Evolution of American Families

    Steven Mintz, American Childhood as a Social and Cultural Construct

    In the News: A “Golden Age” of Childhood? (Christian Science Monitor)

    In the News: How We Took the Child Out of Childhood (New York Times)

    Donna L. Franklin, African Americans and the Birth of the Modern Marriage

    Karen Struening, Families “In Law” and Families “In Practice”: Does the Law Recognize Families as They Really Are?

    M. V. Lee Badgett, Briefing Paper: Will Providing Marriage Rights to Same-Sex Couples Undermine Heterosexual Marriage? Evidence from Scandinavia

    In the News: Experts Question European Studies Cited in FMA Debate (Washington Blade)

    Kerry Ann Rockquemore and Loren Henderson, Interracial Families in Post-Civil Rights America

    Michael Rosenfeld, Briefing Paper: The Steady Rise of Nontraditional Romantic Unions: The Case of Interracial and Intercultural Marriage

    In the News: Interracial Marriage: A Cultural Taboo Fades (Chicago Tribune)

    Part II: Making Families and Intimate Relationships in the 21st Century

    Pepper Schwartz, Why Is Everyone Afraid of Sex?

    Pamela J. Smock and Wendy, Manning New Couples, New Families: The Cohabitation Revolution in the United States

    Joshua Coleman, Parenting Adult Children in the 21st Century

    Naomi Gerstel and Natalia Sarkisian, Briefing Paper: Marriage Reduces Social Ties

    In the News: The Greedy Marriage: Two Scholars Argue That Good Spouses Can Make Bad Neighbors (Boston Globe)

    Virginia E. Rutter, The Case for Divorce

    In the News: How to Stay Married (Times of London)

    Allen Li, Briefing Paper: The Impact of Divorce on Children's Behavior Problems

    In the News: Divorce May Not Cause Kids’ Bad Behavior (USA Today)

    In the News: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Divorce (Washington Times)

    Patrick Heuveline, Briefing Paper: How Do They Do That? Estimating the Proportion of Marriages That End in Divorce

    Stephanie Coontz and Nancy Folbre, Briefing Paper: Marriage, Poverty, and Public Policy

    In the News: A Poor Excuse for Marriage (Washington Post)

    Robert-Jay Green, From Outlaws to In-Laws: Gay and Lesbian Couples in Contemporary Society

    Mignon R. Moore, Independent Women: Equality in African American Lesbian Relationships

    Fact Sheet: Myths and Realities about Same-Sex Families

    Etiony Aldarondo and Edward Ameen, The Immigration Kaleidoscope: Knowing the Immigrant Family Next Door

    In the News: The Picture-Perfect American Family? These Days, It Doesn’t Exist (Washington Post)

    Part III: Unequal Beginnings: Social Class and America’s Children

    Philip A. Cowan and Carolyn P. Cowan, Beyond Family Structure: Family Process Studies Help to Reframe Debates about What’s Good for Children

    Valerie Adrian, Opinion Piece: A Mother’s Day Gift That Makes a Real Difference

    Fact Sheet: Military Childcare: A Government Success Story

    Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., Diverging Development: The Not-So-Invisible Hand of Social Class in the United States

    Annette Lareau, Briefing Paper: Unequal Childhoods: Inequalities in the Rhythms of Daily Life

    In the News: Both Sides of Inequality (New York Times)

    Kevin Roy and Natasha Cabrera, Not Just Provide and Reside: Engaged Fathers in Low-Income Families

    Paula England and Kathryn Edin, Briefing Paper: Unmarried Couples with Children: Why Don't They Marry? How Can Policy-Makers Promote More Stable Relationships?

    In the News: Marital Mythology: Why the New Crisis in Marriage Isn't (Reason Online)

    In the News: Book Examines Trend of Unmarried Parents (National Public Radio)

    In the News: It Takes a Wedding (New York Times)

    Andraé L. Brown, Melina Dimitriou, and Lisa Dressner, Rituals as Tools of Resistance—From Survival to Liberation

    Part IV: The Unfinished Gender Revolution

    Barbara J. Risman and Elizabeth Seale, Betwixt and Be Tween: Gender Contradictions among Middle Schoolers

    Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Paula England, and Alison C. K. Fogarty, Orgasm in College Hookups and Relationships

    Kathleen Gerson, Falling Back on Plan B: The Children of the Gender Revolution Face Uncharted Territory

    Oriel Sullivan, Changing Men's Contribution to Family Work

    Oriel Sullivan and Scott Coltrane, Briefing Paper: Men's Changing Contribution to Housework and Child Care

    In the News: Chores for Two? Men Are Pitching in with Domestic Duties More Than Ever Before (Christian Science Monitor)

    Molly Monahan Lang and Barbara J. Risman, Briefing Paper: A “Stalled” Revolution or a Still Unfolding One?

    In the News: Signs of Détente in the Battle Between Venus and Mars (New York Times)

    David Cotter, Paula England, and Joan Hermsen, Briefing Paper: Moms and Jobs: Trends in Mothers’ Employment and Which Mothers Stay Home

    In the News: Working Moms More the Norm Than Exception (Palo Alto Online)

    Sanjiv Gupta, Briefing Paper: Women’s Money Matters: Earnings and Housework in Dual-Earner Families

    In the News: Wealthier Women Do Less Housework (Daily Collegian)

    Lynn Prince Cooke, Briefing Paper: “Traditional” Marriages Now Less Stable Than Ones Where Couples Share Work and Household Chores

    In the News: Matrimonial Bliss Lies in the Mop Bucket and Broom (Seattle P-I)

    Rhea V. Almedia, Domestic Violence in Heterosexual Relationships


    Barbara J. Risman, Families: A Great American Institution