Nationally recognized for its sound scholarship and balanced approach and written by one of the leading authorities in the field, this text examines the family through two lenses: the familiar private family in which we live most of our personal lives, and the public family in which we, as adults, deal with broader societal issues such as the care of the elderly, the increase in divorce, and childbearing outside of marriage. The book looks at intimate personal concerns, such as whether to marry, as well as societal concerns, such as governmental policies that affect families. Distinctive chapters – Chapter 9, “Children and Parents;” Chapter 10, “The Elderly and Their Families;” and Chapter 14, “The Family, the State and Social Policy” – examine issues of great current interest, such as income assistance to poor families, the effects of out-of-home childcare, and the costs of the Social Security and Medicare programs.
In this text for undergraduate students of sociology Cherlin (public policy and sociology, Johns Hopkins U.) discusses the social dynamics of the "private family"--comprising two or more people in a longstanding emotionally intimate relationship--and the "public family"--consisting of the commitment that adults make to society at large (e.g. to provide for the children and the elderly). Coverage includes historical and contemporary contexts; gender, class, and race-ethnicity; sexuality, partnership, and marriage; links across the generations; and conflict, disruption, and reconstitution. While the majority of material speaks to American trends, families in many international societies are discussed throughout the text. Updates in this fifth edition include new coverage of topics including the Mexican-American family, same-sex marriage, Hurricane Katrina's relationship to poverty and family, and the financing of Social Security and Medicaid. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)