Love in America: Gender and Self-Development / Edition 1

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In the last twenty-five years, Americans have gained considerable freedom in their personal lives. Relationships are now more flexible, and self-development has become a primary goal for both men and women. Most scholars have criticized this trend to greater freedom, arguing that it undermines family bonds and promotes selfishness and extreme independence. Francesca Cancian is more optimistic. In this book she shows that many American couples succeed in combining self-development with commitment, and that interdependence, not independence, is their ideal. In interdependent relationships, love and self-development do not conflict, but reinforce each other.

Using sociological, historical, and psychological sources, Cancian shows how the roles of the sexes have shifted in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She concludes that, while the trend towards more flexible, androgynous roles will continue, whether these changes lead to more interdependent relationships or to more independence and isolation, depends partly on economic and political changes in society as a whole.

In Love in America Francesca M. Cancian concludes that images of love in America have shifted from polarized gender roles, toward more flexible roles and interdependence, thus fostering both love and self-development. 4 tables. 5 diagrams.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The recent trend away from sharply defined gender roles and toward self-development for both men and women has been a concern of many scholars who feel that self-development precludes nurturing and family relationships. Cancian theorizes that self-development encourages interdependence between adults, which is healthier for the family than the dependent-wife pattern. She examines the factors which instigated change over the last century and implications for the future. Exhaustive research as well as interviews with modern couples are cited. Of interest to sociologists and laypersons alike. Susan B. Hagloch, Tuscarawas Cty. P.L., New Philadelphia, Ohio
From the Publisher
"Amid the plethora of scholarly and popular books on the current state of love, marriage, and community life in the United States, Francesca Cancian's Love in America stands out as a welcome and needed contribution. Drawing on survey findings, in-depth interviews, and content analysis of popular magazines, it offers an original account of the range of love relationships that has emerged in recent decades as women and men 'have gained considerable freedom in their personal lives'. The book also provides a well-reasoned and convincing rebuttal to the prevalent view that modern structural and cultural arrangements produce the disintegration of close, enduring personal bonds." American Journal of Sociology
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521396912
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1990
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Table of Contents

List of figures and tables vii
Acknowledgments ix
1 Love vs. self-development 3
I The History Of Love
2 The feminization of love in the nineteenth century 15
3 From role to self: the emergence of androgynous love in the twentieth century 30
4 The history of love: theories and debates 49
II Feminized Love And Its Costs
5 Feminine and masculine love 69
6 Illness and split gender roles 81
7 Marital conflict over intimacy 91
III Androgynous Love
8 Self-development through androgynous love 105
9 Androgynous love in marriage 122
10 Friends and relatives 134
11 Current trends and future possibilities 149
Appendix I Study of close relationships in southern California 157
Appendix II Trends in magazine articles on marriage 163
Appendix III The rise and fall of women's movements 164
Appendix IV Biology and gender 165
Notes 168
References 188
Index 206
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