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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $47.00
  • March 2015
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93767-1
  • 800 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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Families as They Really Are

Second Edition


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Barbara J. Risman (Editor, University of Illinois, Chicago), Virginia Rutter (Editor, Framingham State University)


A fresh collection of original essays by leading scholars that explores how families operate in everyday life.

Families As They Really Are, Second Edition, gets to the heart of the family values debate by re-framing the question about families from “Are they breaking down?” to “Where are they going, how, and why?” Written by an interdisciplinary community of experts who study and work with families, the essays in this book draw on the latest social science research and clinical expertise. These essays aren't reprints; every article is an original contribution to the research and theory about families—written specifically with undergraduate readers in mind.


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

Barbara J. Risman and new co-editor Virginia Rutter pulled together an interdisciplinary team of scholars and charged them with writing essays on the current state of the family for an undergraduate audience. This Second Edition includes expanded coverage of the transgender experience, the marriage movement, transnational adoption, masculinity, same-sex families, work/life issues, and the impact of incarceration on families. 

An unprecedented collection of interdisciplinary scholars on the family

The authors of the essays in Families As They Really Are, Second Edition, are leading scholars in sociology, psychology, history, and law—the ideal interdisciplinary panel of experts to introduce students to contemporary research on the state of families today. Authors include Andrew J. Cherlin, Stephanie Coontz, Frank F. Furstenberg Jr., Kathleen Gerson, Annette Lareau, Pepper Schwartz, and more.  

“In the News” and “In Other Words” pieces connect research to real life

Each section includes articles from major news outlets and prominent blogs that draw on research findings by the book’s contributors. These selections offer students an opportunity to see how social scientists can use their research to influence the public conversation about families. Twenty-six out of thirty-one articles are new to the Second Edition, including pieces from traditional news sources such as New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as posts from popular sociology-focused blogs such as Girl w/ Pen, Sociological Images, The Society Pages, and Family Inequality

A new guide makes the collection more teachable

In response to reviewer feedback, the book editors collaborated on a new Instructor’s Manual to accompany Families As They Really Are, Second Edition, that includes discussion questions, teaching recommendations and activities, suggested additional readings and film selections, writing prompts, and more. 

    **new to Second Edition
    *revised from First Edition

    Part One: How We Know What We Know about Families
    *Barbara J. Risman and Virginia E. Rutter: Springing Forward from the Past: An Introduction
    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
        **CCF Brief: Anthony Mancini and George A. Bonanno: The Trouble with Averages: The Impact of Major Life Events and Acute Stress May Not Be What You Think
        **In the News: “When Numbers Mislead,” by Stephanie Coontz (New York Times)

    Part Two: 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?” by Steven Mintz (Christian Science Monitor)
        **CCF Brief: Susan Matt: Homesick Kids and Helicopter Parents: Are Today’s Young Adults Too Emotionally Dependent on Parents?
    Donna L. Franklin: African Americans and the Birth of the Modern Marriage
    **Brian Powell, Catherine Bolzendahl, Claudia Geist, and Lala Carr Steelman: Changing Counts, Counting Change: Americans’ Movement toward a More Inclusive Definition of Family
        **In Other Words: “FAFSA Form Will Now Recognize College Students’ Same-Sex Parents,” by Crosby Burns (ThinkProgress)
    Kerry Ann Rockquemore and Loren Henderson: Interracial Families in Post-Civil Rights America
        **CCF Brief: Kimberlyn Fong: Changes in Interracial Marriage

    Part Three: The Diversity of American Families Today
    *Karen Struening: Families “In Law” and Families “In Practice”: Does the Law Recognize Families as They Really Are?
    **Amy Blackstone and Amy Greenleaf: Childfree Families
        **CCF Facts: Eric Klinenberg, Stacy Torres, and Elena Portacolone: Aging Alone in America
        **In the News: “Loneliness and Race in the Twilight Years,” by Elahe Izadi (DCentric)
    *Pamela J. Smock and Wendy Manning: New Couples, New Families: The Cohabitation Revolution in the United States
        **CCF Brief: Arielle Kuperberg: Does Premarital Cohabitation Raise Your Risk of Divorce?
    **Amy Brainer: Growing Up with a Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual Sibling
        **CCF Symposium: Why Interracial Marriage Is Good for Black Women
        **In the News: “Stanford Law Professor Argues Black Women Should Cross Race Barrier for Marriage Partners,” by Lisa M. Krieger (San Jose Mercury News)
        **In Other Words: “Interracial Marriages and the Meaning of Multiraciality,” by Jennifer Lee (Sociological Images)
        **In Other Words: “The Coolest Thing About Online Dating Sites,” by Jenny Davis (Cyborgology)
    **Shannon Davis and Brittany Owen: Life in a Dual-Earner Couple Before, During, and After the Great Recession
    *Robert-Jay Green: From Outlaws to In-Laws: Gay and Lesbian Couples in Contemporary Society
        **In Other Words: “Some States See Fight for Right to Same-Sex Divorce,” by Holbrook Mohr and David Crary (Associated Press)
    Mignon R. Moore: Independent Women: Equality in African American Lesbian Relationships

    Part Four: Intimacy in the Twenty-First Century
    Pepper Schwartz: Why Is Everyone Afraid of Sex?
    **Adina Nack: First Comes Love, then Comes Herpes: Sexual Health and Relationships
        **CCF Facts: Adina Nack: Valentine’s Day Fact Sheet on Sexual Health
        **In Other Words: “Can We Have the HPV Vaccine Without the Sexism and the Homophobia?” by Adina Nack (Ms. magazine blog)
    Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Paula England, and Alison C.K. Fogarty: Orgasm in College Hookups and Relationships
        **In Other Words: “Hooking Up as College Culture,” by Rachel Allison (Gender & Society Blog)
        **In Other Words: “Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex and Housework but Were Too Busy to Ask,” by Brigid Schulte (Washington Post)

    Part Five: Marriage and Divorce: Does Policy Matter?
    **Orit Avishai, Melanie Health, Jennifer Randles: The Marriage Movement
        In the News: “How to Stay Married,” by Stephanie Coontz (Times of London)
        **CCF Brief: Kristi Williams: Promoting Marriage among Single Mothers: An Ineffective Weapon in the War on Poverty?
        **In the News: “No, Marriage Is Not a Good Way to Fight Poverty,” by Bryce Covert (ThinkProgress)
    Virginia E. Rutter: The Case for Divorce
        In the News: “The Good the Bad and the Ugly of Divorce,” by Cheryl Wetzstein (Washington Times)
        **In Other Words: “Silver Linings Divorce Trend,” by Philip Cohen (FamilyInequality)
    **Marilyn Coleman and Lawrence Ganong: Stepfamilies as They Really Are: Neither Cinderella nor the Brady Bunch
    *Philip A. Cowan and Carolyn Pape Cowan: Beyond Family Structure: Family Process Studies Help to Reframe Debates about What’s Good for Children
        **CCF Brief: Philip Cohen: Was the War on Poverty a Failure? Or Are Anti-Poverty Efforts Swimming Simply Against a Stronger Tide?

    Part Six: A Generational Dance: How Parents and Kids Relate
    Joshua Coleman: Parenting Adult Children in the Twenty-First Century
        **In the News: “Lean Times Force Many Bay Area 'Boomerang Kids' to Return Home as Adults,” by Hannah Dreier and Paul Burgarino (San Jose Mercury News)
        **CCF Brief: Elizabeth Gregory: Myths of Later Motherhood
        **In the News: “Number of Older Women Having Babies Continues to Grow,” by Lois M. Collins (Deseret News)
    **Lorena Garcia: “This Is Your Job Now”: Latina Mothers and Daughters and Family Work
    **Pamela Quiroz: Adoptive Parents Raising Neoethnics
    **Georgiann Davis: Parents as Pawns: Intersex, Medical Experts, and Questionable Consent
        **In the News: Op-Ed: “Hey Fox News, Intersex Is Not a Punchline,” by Sean Saifa Wall and Georgiann Davis (
    **Raine Dozier: The Power of Queer: How “Guy Moms” Challenge Heteronormative Assumptions about Mothering and Family
        **In Other Words: “Dress Shopping and Gender Bending: Why I’m Wearing a Suit and a Veil,” by Ashir Leah KaneRisman (The Offbeat Bride)
        **In Other Words: “Class and Race Demographics of LGBT Families,” by Lisa Wade (Sociological Images)

    Part Seven: Unequal Lives: Families Across Economic and Citizenship Divides
    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,” by Andrew J. Cherlin (Washington Post)
    **Pallavi Banerjee: When Men Stay Home: Household Labor in Female-Led Indian Migrant Families
        **In the News: “An Immigrant Wife’s Place? In the Home, According to Visa Policy,” by Pallavi Banerjee (Ms. magazine blog)
    Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr.: Diverging Development: The Not-So-Invisible Hand of Social Class in the United States
        CCF Brief: Annette Lareau: Unequal Childhoods: Inequalities and the Rhythms of Daily Life
    Kevin Roy and Natasha Cabrera: Not Just Provide and Reside: Engaged Fathers in Low-Income Families
        **In Other Words: “More Similarities than Differences in Study of Race and Fatherhood,” by Lisa Wade (Sociological Images)
    **Bryan L. Sykes and Becky Pettit: Mass Incarceration and Family Life
        **In Other Words: “Doing Time = Doing Gender,” by Virginia E. Rutter (Girl w/ Pen)

    Part Eight: Unfinished Gender Revolution
    Barbara J. Risman and Elizabeth Seale: Betwixt and Be Tween: Gender Contradictions Among Middle Schoolers
    Kathleen Gerson: Falling Back on Plan B: The Children of the Gender Revolution Face Uncharged Territory
        **CCF Facts: Jonathan Bearak and Paula England: Women’s Education and Their Likelihood of Marriage: A Historic Reversal
        **In the News: “Women Say ‘I do’ to Education, then Marriage,” by Leslie Mann (Chicago Tribune)
    *Oriel Sullivan: Men’s Changing Contribution to Family Work
        **In the News: “It’s Not Just Us: Women Around the World Do More Housework and Have Less Free Time,” by Bryce Covert (ThinkProgress)
    **Kristen Myers and Ilana Demantas: Being “The Man” Without Having a Job and/or Providing Care Instead of “Bread”
        **CCF Symposium: Equal Pay Symposium: Fifty Years Since the Equal Pay Act of 1963
        **In the News: “Yes, I've Folded Up My Masculine Mystique, Honey,” by Stephanie Coontz (The Sunday Times of London)
        **In Other Words: “Still a Man’s World,” by Philip Cohen (Boston Review)



    *Barbara J. Risman: Families: A Great American Institution