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The Divorce Culture Hardcover – January 14, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When Barbara Dafoe Whitehead published her article "Dan Quayle Was Right" in the April 1993 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, she caught many pundits, polemicists, and readers on their heels. Her argument provided a bracing wake-up call from the largely complacent attitude held toward the effects of divorce and single-parent families on the lives of children. Through thorough statistics, Whitehead demonstrated the real cost of divorce in terms of the diminished lives of America's children. That original argument is expanded to book length in The Divorce Culture. Her book is a recapitulation of her original (and important) case that the state of families ought to be of vital concern to all of us. Now, however, her fresh approach is hardened into a more partisan temper, and her book provides little beyond moralism to chart a course for improvement. If Whitehead's point is that a moral reform is the only means of saving the family, then she at least owes a bit more sweat over the shape that that movement for moral reform ought to take, as well as some analysis of its likelihood of success. After all, if her diagnosis is correct, her prescription is of the greatest importance.

From Publishers Weekly

Whitehead faults three strands in the development of a divorce culture: a shift in the ethic of obligation to an ethic of self, an all-American reconception of divorce as a right and woman-friendly socio-economic shifts. Her conservative defense of traditional marriage criticizes both capitalism and liberalism. She attributes the rise of what she terms "expressive" divorce to a "model of family relationships based on marketplace notions of unfettered choice, limited warranties and contingent obligations." Whitehead shows how all sides in the culture wars have accepted divorce as morally valid and how stressed fathers and mothers transmit the suffering of these choices to children, the conception of divorce as a "psychological entitlement" being adversarial to children. Her stories of children from divorced families are poignant, making this an important book for those with younger children considering divorce. The author's antidote is to stop thinking about marriage in terms of the marketplace and recommit ourselves to civic and religious traditions of obligation. Whitehead is a freelance writer who specializes on matters of family and child well-being.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679432302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679432302
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,958,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a child of divorce I found "The Divorce Culture" by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead fascinating and wonderful. It gave me some answers I have been looking for during my life as I have undertaken to be husband and father without making the mistakes of my parents. Her account of the development of the divorce culture, and most importantly the philosophical basis for that development, is a most important contribution to the current debate on the problems facing the American Family in the late 20th century.
Nothing develops in a vacuum and the rise of divorce is not an exception. Ms. Whitehead looks at the social and historical framework that defined the family and the ends to which that framework was built to serve. By comparing the social and historic record to the theories and forecasts made before the divorce revolution, she gives us the most clear summary possible in a work meant for the public, of the failure of those theories to meet or even suggest the results of large scale divorce on the society and on the children specifically. Personally, I was able to understand that my parents had a whole social-economic model that suggested to them, however incorrectly, that it was ok for them to divorce, and by divorcing they might be doing my siblings and I a favor. The model was wrong, and now Ms. Whitehead has written, clearly and without jargon, but with full bibliographical references, that this was so. She may be forgiven for making suggestions for solving the problems of divorce that seem vague and general. She states that it will take a change in the views of individuals to change the culture of throwaway marriages. In this she is no doubt correct, and therefore suggesting how this is to be done is by nature vague and general.
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By A Customer on September 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Whitehead really hits the nail on the head. No holds barred, but extremely thoughtful and insightful. Painfully truthful to those in society who wish to assume no responsibility for their actions, but truth seldom offers solace to those seeking to shift blame.
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Format: Hardcover
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead is a journalist (e.g., she wrote the article "Dan Quayle Was Right" in the April 1993 issue of the Atlantic Monthly), and co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; she has also written Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman.

She wrote in the Introduction to this 1996 book, “This book is about the ideas behind the divorce revolution and how these ideas have shaped a culture of divorce. The making of a divorce culture has involved three overlapping changes: first, the emergence and widespread diffusion of a historically new and distinctive set of ideas about divorce in the last third of the twentieth century; second, the migration of divorce from a minor place within a system governed by marriage to a freestanding place as a major institution governing family relationships; and third, a widespread shift in thinking about the obligations of marriage and parenthood. Beginning in the late 1950s, Americans began to change their ideas about the individual’s obligations to family and society…

“As a result, the conception of the family’s role and place in the society began to change.
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Format: Hardcover
ok-- not the most helpful review! (as I havent read the book) lol BUT, the book caught my eye enough that I am offering a "pre" view insight as to why I am going to buy this: I have been a single mom, dating for 5 years and NOT ONCE have I met a man serious about dating and marriage in my new-found singledom (Ex husband, btw dumped me for my ex-best friend and both of them are now on their 4th marriage together). Its all about "the me syndrome" getting what they can for nothing, with no obligations or committment. A free-ride for sex, fun and NO respect for love and values anymore. Maybe some of you would turn your heads away and call me bitter-- but take a look at your own dating these days? How many of you, women in particular are tired of the dating run-around this society promotes? I'm tired-- we need a change-- I hope this book offers me some helpful insights-- its at least worth trying...
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