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EMBATTLED PARADISE by Arlene Skolnick

EMBATTLED PARADISE

The American Family in an Age of Uncertainty

By Arlene Skolnick

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 1991
ISBN: 0-465-01923-4
Publisher: Basic

 An enlightening and essentially optimistic look at American families and the seismic cultural shocks that have wrought profound changes in them during the past century. As a research psychologist at Berkeley, Skolnick has been involved with a longitudinal study of families that began with people who were children in the 1920's. Eloquent and informed, she does not accept the idea of the devastated American family. Skolnick sniffs at assertions from the political right that American family life suffers because of moral decay, saying, ``Changes in our hearts and minds are responses to large-scale social change, rather than a fall from moral grace.'' From the successful efforts of the Victorians to remake the family as ``the foundation of the social order'' through the continual economic, sexual, and political shifts of the 20th century, Skolnick traces the impact of feminism, technology, divorce, and ``psychological gentrification.'' She makes a strong, though not totally convincing, case that the single most important factor in recontouring the American family is the lengthening of the life span--``the longevity revolution.'' Parents who looked forward to playing with grandchildren must instead care for their own aged parents, and perhaps even their more aged grandparents as well. Also under fire are the commentators who wrap all of the problems of society from abortion to poverty in the banner of ``decline of the American family.'' Down with nostalgia, up with reality. Here's a forceful guide to how the American family is eagerly reshaping itself. It won't be, and never was, anything like Ozzie and Harriet.