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Kirkus ReviewsA defense of the blended, extended, and amended families that have replaced Ozzie and Harriet and the Cleavers as typically American.
Stacey (Sociology and Women's Studies/Univ. of Calif., Davis; Brave New Families, 1990) joins the "family values" fray on the side of Americans who have no leisure to debate the virtues of how a two-parents/mom-at-home family benefits children. They are too busy scrambling to earn a living; even if there is an involved father, mom can't afford to stay home anymore. In a relatively short text (there are more than 40 pages of notes and bibliography), Stacey argues that poverty and unemployment, among other social and economic forces, have driven the reshaping of the American family and that critics, whether on the right or the left, have two choices: They can accept and work with the array of families as they actually exist, or they can continue to deny conditions as they are. Moreover, she finds that reorganized families cut across economic and class lines; they are not limited to either the poor or the upper middle class. Both liberals and conservatives target the fatherless household as a prime disrupter of "family values," but Stacey sees the campaign to restore the father to his supposedly rightful place as thinly disguised form of anti-feminism, racism, and homophobia. One chapter is devoted to how groups of social scientists have supported this intensely conservative viewpoint despite research to the contrary. A final chapter defends homosexual marriages and parenting practices, offering this group's flexible family arrangements as an example of new family values in microcosm.
Addressed more to the author's sociologist and feminist colleagues than to the general reader. Nevertheless, some telling points are made on behalf of diverse modern families and against the organized "family values" campaign.