One of the prevailing myths about the American family is that there once existed a harmonious family with three generations living together, and that this "ideal" family broke down under the impact of urbanization and industralization. The essays in this volume challenge this myth and provide dramatic revisions of simplistic notions about change in the American family. Based on detailed research in a variety of sources, including extensive oral history interviews of ordinary people, these essays examine major changes in family life, dispel myths about the past, and offer new directions in research and interpretation. The essays cover a wide spectrum of issues and topics, ranging from the organization of the family and household, to the networks available to children as they grow up, to the role of the family in the process of industralization, to the division of labor in the family along gender lines, and to the relations between the generations in the later years of life. While discussing family relations in the past and revising prevailing notions of social change, these interdisciplinary essays also provide important perspectives on the present.
Table of Contents
Preface -- Family and Kinship -- The History of the Family and the Complexity of Social Change -- The Dynamic of Kin in an Industrial Community -- A Complex Relationship -- Studying Lives in Time and Place -- Historical Changes in Children’s Networks in the Family and Community -- Aging and Generational Relations -- Synchronizing Individual Time, Family Time, and Historical Time -- The Generation in the Middle -- Rising Above Life’s Disadvantage -- Changing Images of Aging and the Social Construction of the Life Course -- Comparative Perspectives -- Between Craft and Industry -- The Festival’s Work as Leisure -- Divorce, Chinese Style -- Broader Perspectives -- Family Change and Historical Change -- What Difference Does It Make?