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Urban Tribes: Are Friends the New Family? Paperback – October 7, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (October 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582344418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582344416
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,956,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Watters is a definer of our culture." (Philadelphia City Paper)

"An anthropological and yet warmly personal look at the generation that delayed marriage." (Seattle Times)

"Fascinating and humorous, Urban Tribes is an insightful and important exploration of modern city society." (Book Sense)

"Playful without being ironic and meaningful without being sappy… Urban Tribes gives hope to a generation mislabeled as apathetic and lost." (Po Bronson)

About the Author

Ethan Watters is a journalist who has written about social trends for publications from Glamour to the New York Times Magazine; he is the coauthor of two books on psychotherapy, Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria and Therapy's Delusions. He lives in San Francisco.

Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By nick on August 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book looks very exciting and very promising. It may have started out as a great idea, but there is just nothing to read in it. There is absolutely nothing new. Yes, when people leave home and get jobs they have friends before they get married. There is almost no research beyond his descriptions of a few "urban tribes" that feel like they are part of some crazy new phenomenon. In one section where he tries to get philosophical, rather than researching actual philosophers, he actually paraphrases high school papers he found on Google (with no citation at all). Then he has the audacity to criticize them. " Much of what [Aristotle] came up with was unremarkable". After the first chapter, every word is a repetition of the same description of a group that is tolerant, urban and likes to have a good time. Frankly, I've never felt the need to write a review of a book until now, and I want my money back.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Maher on August 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book consisted of about 40 percent debate and discussion of other sociological research books published in the field. About another 20 percent was e-mails from readers of his magazine articles, which left him 40 percent of this little book to try to explain to his parents why he'd rather spend all his time with his friends at the age of 37 than get married. Watters acknowledges that his relationship with his "tribe" drives his girlfriends away, and honestly I can see why. He describes a close knit and insular group of individuals that are pretty judgemental of others outside the group, and very needy towards the members of the group internally. I suppose if you live in a city like San Francisco for close to 20 years, this is what happens. Personally, I've always been suspicious of those people who've known each other for 15 years, it makes me wonder why they didn't move to different cities, or into different phases of their lives.

Watters seems to think that most people come from a small town, go to a big town for college, stay there until they get married, and develop very insular, incestuous groups of friends that sustain them until they finally get married sometime in their late thirties, at which point they never see any of their old friends any more.

I hate to break it to you, Watters, but not everyone under the age of forty treads that path, and I would venture to say not even the vast majority. Not only is this book a poor example of social research, but as the writer himself admits in the last chapter, it's a thinly veiled attempt to justify his aimless existence and reluctance to get his act together. I would have given this book one star, considering how much of a time-waster it was, except I found the author's character endearing, and the social anecdotes he related to be entertaining.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S.R.W. Phillips on July 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because it seemed like something right up my alley. I absolutely love anything related to sociology, anthropology, etc. However, although this had its moments, Watters simply could not hold my attention. It seemed less like a coherent piece of literature and more like ramblings from his inner monologue put down on a page. It didn't help that he repeatedly committed my pet peeve by referring to the popular TV series (and one of my personal favorites) "Sex and the City" by the incorrect title "Sex IN the City." If an author can't even be bothered to do a simple internet search to make sure they don't make mistakes like this, I am left to wonder what broader mistakes they may be making.

I always, always make myself finish books, but, late last night, with 40 pages left, I began to wonder why I was wasting my time with this and literally threw it across the room and picked up a new, much more interesting book. I skipped ahead and noticed that Watters eventually gets married. Congrats. If you're looking for a real study of the "marriage delay," look elsewhere. This is far from scholarly and miles from interesting.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Trido on September 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Urban Tribes offers a lucid explanation for worried (grand-) parents why their offspring is taking such a long time between graduation and marriage. It even offers them hope that eventually (after more than 20 years living in an Urban Tribe Ethan Watter finally got married) their job will be done. For the people involved in Urban Tribes the book provides an affirmation of their choices -after all choice is most widely available between 20 and 40 in our society- and tackles the doubts about shedding responsibilities. Seinfeld's sitcom may be dealing with 'nothing', Urban Tribes explains why you can't do everything at the same time. Urban Tribes may become a valuable antidose for too many Desperate Housewives
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By Paula Clarke on July 30, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Arrived on time and as promised. Thank you.
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