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The Age of Independence: Interracial Unions, Same-Sex Unions, and the Changing American Family Paperback – October 30, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0674034907 ISBN-10: 0674034902

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (October 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674034902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674034907
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,063,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

An original and provocative thesis with impressive evidence in support of it. (Andrew Cherlin, The Johns Hopkins University)

A serious and thought-provoking take on the dramatic transformations taking place in early adulthood—and their far-reaching implications for the future of sexuality, race, and family life in America. (Steven Mintz, Stanford University)

A significant contribution to the literature on interracial relationships, same-sex relationships, and family dynamics. Perhaps most importantly, this work provides compelling statistical evidence to support what for too long have been anecdotal arguments. (Renee Romano, Wesleyan University)

Michael Rosenfeld's The Age of Independence is perhaps the most intellectually provocative study of family change in the United States to be published in the past decade. Weaving together strands of literature from social history, demography, and cultural movements, it proposes an explanation of how and why Americans shifted their marriage practices to embrace greater tolerance for "alternative unions," including cohabitation and interracial and same-sex partnerships...The Age of Independence, slim in pages but not in content, is engaging reading and should be especially attractive to those of us who are always on the lookout for worthy books for graduate seminars on the family...Rosenfeld's book provides a rich lode of ideas for empirical examination. Whether he is right or wrong in all of the particulars, he has written a valuable book. (Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr. Population and Development Review 2007-12-01)

The book offers an original argument about the sources of family change, and about the past and future of the American family. (Family Forum 2007-09-01)

Rosenfeld's book is meticulously researched, carefully argued, and beautifully written, and it deserves a place on the "must-read" list of social demographers as well as other social scientists working in the areas of family, race and sexuality...This book has so much going for it that I believe it is destined to rank as a classic in the fields of family demography and sociology of the family. (Kathleen E. Hull International Journal of Sociology of the Family 2008-05-01)

About the Author

Michael J. Rosenfeld is Associate Professor of Sociology at Stanford University.

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Frank on March 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This work addresses fundamental changes along a core dimension of social life, documenting and theorizing the rise of nontraditional - i.e., interracial and same-sex - unions in the U.S. in the post-1960s era. In engaging and readable prose, the author presents data (mostly from the U.S. Census) showing striking expansions in the prevalence of nontraditional unions, which he postulates arise concomitant with a new "independent life stage," during which time young people live apart from their families and forge unions outside community control. The empirical and theoretical contributions of the book are both substantial.

To my knowledge, no other scholarly work treats the expansions of interracial and same-sex unions as inter-related indicators of a shifting American life course. While there are normative/psychological treatments and social-movement accounts of the central phenomena, the demographic perspective taken here is entirely original. The author's presentation of the trends is outstanding, and his interpretation thereof is important and original. The scholarship is uniformly superior.
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Format: Paperback
i read this book recently and was curious which direction and manner it was headed toward and after reading it, i found this book to be very modern and forward thinking in terms of its outlook on marriage and various other unions and it was a easy read,yet not a dump down read. very well thought out and compelling responses and takes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Anderson on May 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an academic book that is also relevant and accessible to the lay community. Professor Rosenfeld writes in a confident, clear, and engaging manner that makes this book truly a pleasure to read. His study is not only fascinating but timely. I highly recommend this book!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Colwell on March 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Rosenfeld's theory of how routine, under-recognized and therefore underappreciated changes in the life course are at the root of major contemporary social controversies is social science at its best.

He explains that in earlier eras adolescents made rapid transitions from living under parental authority to the establishment of long-term marital bonds. Courting and coupling behavior was also more readily subject to the monitoring and sanctioning of relations established during childhood.

Institutional and technological change has facilitated the emergence of an "Independent life-stage" where such social controls are weakened or removed and opportunities for non-traditional coupling has increased. He goes on to detail how this has had profound implications for the composition of the American family (and as is the case, American politics).

His argument is not grounded on tenuous assumptions but on historical trends that he clearly demonstrates using 150 years of newly available U.S. census data. However, his work is far from an impersonal account where statistics alienate the reader from the social implications of his findings.

He also draws upon survey responses (from the General Social Survey) as well as original interview data from non-traditional couples to make the totality of his parsimonious argument readily comprehensible to the reader. His writing style and his ideas are rich and rewarding, without being dense and difficult to grasp.

This is a rare work of lofty scholarship that can enlighten both academic and non-academic readers.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Reader on March 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific book about changing attitudes toward marriage in America. I'm very interested in the topic (mostly because my girlfriend thinks I should be), but I was afraid the writing would be too technical for me. In fact it's an easy read, well-written and to the point. It really opened up the subject for me.

Rosenfeld covers non-traditional unions in America from a variety of angles (historical, cultural, statistical, and legal, among others) and includes compelling narratives from the lives of gay and interracial couples. I came away with a new appreciation for the subtleties of the issues involved, and was convinced by his analysis of the factors influencing progressive change in this country.

Marriage is one of those topics for which "expert" opinions are offered freely. Everyone from my green-grocer to my aunt Gertrude seems to be ready to tell me who should and shouldn't be married. I'd like to buy a dozen copies of this book and hand it out to all of them. If you're at all interested in the institution of marriage, this book is a must-read.
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