ISBN is

978-0-520-21400-2 / 0520214005

Brave New Families: Stories of Domestic Upheaval in Late-Twentieth-Century America

by Stacey, Judith

Publisher:University of California Press

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

The rose-hued nuclear family--breadwinner dad, stay-at-home mom, and two kids--held a lock on the American imagination long after it ceased to be much more than a skewed memory. Studying the paths taken by two families living in California's Silicon Valley, ethnographer Judith Stacey was struck by the ways each had reconfigured the nuclear equation. Pam Gama and Dotty Lewison had both been married homemakers raising kids, but there the similarities end. For Pam, divorce and remarriage created a network of children, an ex-spouse, and supportive friends who act as family. A self-avowed feminist whose gradual emergence into paid, sustaining work was the death knell to her first marriage, Pam saved a foundering second marriage by entering Christian counseling and renewing vows at a fundamentalist church that preached wifely submission. Dotty, despite coming from more conservative working-class stock, plunged wholeheartedly into community and feminist activism, eventually using it as a lever to first leave, and then improve, her marriage. Though the book is heavily skewed with Stacey's political sensibilities, it still digs deep to sketch the convoluted lives and contradictory philosophies of real people. First published in 1991, Brave New Families remains fresh and engaging today because it speaks to the dissonance between hard-line feminism and true-life stories. --Francesca Coltrera

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