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Domestic Revolutions: A Social History Of American Family Life

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0029212912
ISBN-10: 002921291X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

American family structure has changed radically in the 300 years since patriarchal Puritan days, when it was the basic political, religious and educational unit of state and community, maintain Mintz, University of Houston associate professor of history, and Kellogg, his wife, who teaches anthropology, also at Houston. The authors vividly evoke a diversity of family patterns and experiences among racial and ethnic groups, including Afro-American slave kinship networks. They discuss how changes wrought in working-class families by the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the Great Depression and WW II affected family roles and relationships. Emerging from the relative stability of the 1950s and the largely mythical ideal of the nuclear family, today's aging, individual-oriented society, transformed by a sexual revolution, considers the family in whatever formcohabitation, single-parent households, "blended" families from several marriages, among othersas a means of personal fulfillment for both partners, with public institutions taking over many of its traditional roles. Illustrations.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This clear and comprehensive synthesis of recent scholarship shows that the American family, influenced by circumstance, has undergone great transformations and served various social and economic roles over the years from 1620 to the 1980s. The book is exceptionally valuable for its attention to Native American, Afro-American, and ethnic family organization, and childrearing customs and their influence. Extensive footnotes compensate for the lack of a bibliography, reviewing the literature of the field. A useful text for history and sociology courses, this is also valuable as an overview of a relatively new field.Mary Drake McFeely, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press (April 3, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 002921291X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029212912
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This nearly-twenty-year-old book still has much to commend it: comprehensive scholarship, easy-to-read (though not sparkling or tight) prose style, and no heavy-handed ideological agenda (though the author's values and assumptions aren't hard to discern).

On the down side, there's not much by way of interpretive framework, and what's there wavers between incoherence and airy-fairy hand-waving.

On the former, for instance, the authors seem both (a) to want to see a significant set of fairly stable "family values" that lasted from the late eighteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, which are overthrown by late-twentieth century changes, and (b) to show the overwhelming diversity of family life, and the enormous deviations from the alleged stable values, during the same period. But point (b) seems to prove point (a) wrong.

On the airy-fairy issue, they have this notion of "the family" as resilient, rising to all sorts of challenges and adapting to all sorts of strains. But it's hard to tell what they mean by "the family" in that context, since they identify no core set of traits, no base-line definition, that pervades the enormous range of "families" they so effectively describe. One could just as easily use the info they present to argue that "the family"--meaning the child-producing, and/or sex-regulating unit of society--is, as conservatives fear, becoming decreasingly important among forms of human affiliation, more peripheral to decision-making and social life.

The info-overpowering-the-analysis problem even goes to the paragraph-by-paragraph level.
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Format: Paperback
This is probably my favorite book on U.S. social history. While academic, it's written in a very readable style. The authors make the history of American families extremely interesting, and they shatter some of our more romantic cultural myths. I referred to this book when I wrote my master's thesis on the U.S. household economy of the 1930s during the Great Depression. My first ancestors in this country lived in New England in the early to mid 1600s, so I find these accounts fascinating, as I can imagine how all of my ancestors since that time lived their lives in our developing country and culture. I highly recommend this book to students, history researchers, or the curious casual reader.
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An amazing compilation and analysis of data on marriage and family from the pilgrims to the 1980's. There are times when the data is presented with a bias, but generally the authors are fair. I believe Domestic Revolutions is a title that grabs you but which is overstated -- the notion and pattern of family develops adapts, but the word "revolution" is much too strong.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg, Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life, 1988. New York: The Free Press, Simon & Schuster. 316 pages.

I feel whiplashed by this book, and by the history of American families.
The idea of the family in the time of the first European settlers was so strong, and you don’t have to be a social scientist or historian to know that today, more families are run by a single mother, more marriages will end in divorce, more teenage girls will have children outside of wedlock, and more children will grow up in a continuous cycle of poverty, drugs, abuse, lack of parental guidance, poor schooling, and the prospect of repeating it all over again for another generation.
This book was published in 1988, so it would be interesting to read the 2015 version of this history. But nothing I have learned or read suggests that we have found the path toward improvement. The authors do propose remedies, though, and we’ll look at those later.

Steven Mintz, a historian, joined forces with Susan Kellogg, an anthropologist, to conduct this fascinating story of the American family.
They use letters, diaries and documents generated at the time to look at what is an American family, and all the “Domestic Revolutions” that have taken place since white men and women arrived on this continent and set up housekeeping.
The authors examine Native Americans as well, and give us an interesting look at life in the families of African slaves.
When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts the family was the most important institution to helping them adapt to life on this wild continent.
The family was a lot more than we think of today. It was the work place for its members, the school, and the place of worship.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
learned a ton. interesting relatable information too
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An INCREDIBLE read. A must read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found true value in this book however it was so wordy some of the value was infinitely lost by this. i read this for my History of American Family class and it was priceless in value for understanding the history of traditions of nearly all family types through history.
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