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The Divorce Culture Barbara Dafoe Whitehead

The Divorce Culture

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead

Published
ISBN : 9780679432302
Hardcover
224 pages
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 About the Book 

Barbara Dafoe Whiteheads Atlantic Monthly article Dan Quayle Was Right ignited a media debate on the effects of divorce that rages still. In The Divorce Culture she expands her argument. She shows us how our high-divorce society is creating aMoreBarbara Dafoe Whiteheads Atlantic Monthly article Dan Quayle Was Right ignited a media debate on the effects of divorce that rages still. In The Divorce Culture she expands her argument. She shows us how our high-divorce society is creating a low-commitment culture where the breaking of bonds becomes a defining fact and metaphor in our most vital human relations, and where the interests and needs of children are increasingly neglected. Using a variety of cultural sources - childrens books, greeting cards, and the literature of self-help, etiquette, and advice - as well as psychological and sociological research, she provides historical perspective and shows how Americans who once viewed divorce as a last resort have come to see it as an entitlement. She traces the change most particularly to the mid-sixties, when a major, and troublesome, shift took place, leading to what she calls expressive divorce - divorce as an individual prerogative, and as a source of personal growth and new opportunity. Whitehead does not oppose divorce as such. She assumes that it is often the only possible remedy for an irretrievably broken or violence-ridden marriage. Rather, it is against casual divorce that she argues - divorce that focuses on one persons rights, needs, and desires without regard to the consequences for others, especially children. And she makes us see how little attention is paid to preparation for marriage, with the result that it all too frequently turns out to be short-term, contingent, and subject to abrupt termination.