Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture

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Overview

Red Families v. Blue Families identifies a new family model geared for the post-industrial economy. Rooted in the urban middle class, the coasts and the "blue states" in the last three presidential elections, the Blue Family Paradigm emphasizes the importance of women's as well as men's workforce participation, egalitarian gender roles, and the delay of family formation until both parents are emotionally and financially ready. By contrast, the Red Family Paradigm—associated with the Bible Belt, the mountain west, and rural America—rejects these new family norms, viewing the change in moral and sexual values as a crisis. In this world, the prospect of teen childbirth is the necessary deterrent to premarital sex, marriage is a sacred undertaking between a man and a woman, and divorce is society's greatest moral challenge. Yet, the changing economy is rapidly eliminating the stable, blue collar jobs that have historically supported young families, and early marriage and childbearing derail the education needed to prosper. The result is that the areas of the country most committed to traditional values have the highest divorce and teen pregnancy rates, fueling greater calls to reinstill traditional values.

Featuring the groundbreaking research first hailed in The New Yorker, this penetrating book will transform our understanding of contemporary American culture and law. The authors show how the Red-Blue divide goes much deeper than this value system conflict—the Red States have increasingly said "no" to Blue State legal norms, and, as a result, family law has been rent in two. The authors close with a consideration of where these different family systems still overlap, and suggest solutions that permit rebuilding support for both types of families in changing economic circumstances.

Incorporating results from the 2008 election, Red Families v. Blue Families will reshape the debate surrounding the culture wars and the emergence of red and blue America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Red Families v. Blue Families is a fascinating, groundbreaking look at the ways in which the red versus blue political divide reflects an even deeper divide in family life and sexual values. Cahn and Carbone have updated the old maxim that the personal is political, and enormously enriched it, with hard data and subtle observations."—Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker

"This fascinating and surprising book will change the way we think about the culture wars. Naomi Cahn and June Carbone reveal a series of unexpected truths about marriage, divorce, and sexual behavior in Red states and Blue states. Some highlights: College educated women are far less likely to divorce than those without college degrees. Only a quarter of evangelical teens abstain from sexual activity more than other teens. And expanding access to contraception, rather than abortion, is the best way to delay marriage and promote stable families. By using invaluable data to cut through the ideological posturing that has distorted American politics, Cahn and Carbone point us toward a less polarized future."—Jeffrey Rosen, Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic

"The book's illuminating (if very technical) statistical data and dispassionate approach render it invaluable." —Publishers Weekly

"An illuminating analysis...Cahn and Carbone make a strong case for formulating family laws through the existing federalized family legal system so they are not victimized in culture wars inflamed by vote seeking politicians."—ForeWord Reviews

"Wonderful...The book is primarily a study of the way in which different family forms have emerged in different parts of the country, and the political ramifications of the polarized value systems that result. But the data it contains reveals a deep incoherence in the American government's family planning policies. —Andrew Koppelman, Balkinization

[An] important new book Whether Cahn and Carbone are right will take time and subsequent scholarship to learn; but their story is both plausible and sobering. Plausible, because it brings so many aspects of the culture wars into sharper focus. Sobering, because the economic and cultural forces battering traditional family norms show no signs of abating—but the new, education-centered pathway to adulthood is often least accessible to those who need it most. —Jonathan Rauch, National Journal

"Provocative." —The Week

"Cahn and Carbone argue that family law in the United States has been increasingly polarized...They conclude that as a result family law has been rent in two, and they seek to find places where these different family systems still overlap, allowing identification of a new family model geared for the postindustrial economy."—Law & Social Inquiry

"An insightful companion to any intellectual debate about the political, legal and cultural divide in our country today...The book is both fascinating to read and fast paced, leaving you hooked from beginning to end. Whatever your position on the issues presented in the book, you will walk away well informed about the political and legal divisions that have resulted in a culture divide in our country today, will be well versed in critical issues bubbling at the top of the family law agenda, popular culture, federalism and law and science issues that are the forefront today."—Law and Politics Book Review

Publishers Weekly
Family law scholars Cahn (Test Tube Families) and Carbone (From Partners to Parents) defuse America’s bitter culture wars in this measured, statistics-based look at the societal pressures and changing economic realities that influence regional ideologies and voting patterns. The book focuses on the blue state/ red state division, acknowledging the demographic data suggesting that life patterns differ regionally, and that these differing family structures influence political allegiances: the bluest states have fewer teen mothers and lower divorce rates, and emphasize responsibility; red states have high teen birth and divorce rates and emphasize tradition. According to the authors, these core differences are the crucible from which the battles over abortion, same sex marriage, and contraception spring. Their suggestion? Return to a federalized approach that allows each region to address its constituents’ specific needs. The authors allow that a return to decentralization might not be feasible, but given the recent national debates over health care, the Stupak amendment, and same sex marriage laws, the book’s illuminating (if very technical) statistical data and dispassionate approach render it invaluable. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195372175
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/8/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 899,038
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Naomi Cahn is the John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, a Senior Fellow at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and a member of the Yale Cultural Cognition Project, for which she and her co-investigators have received outside funding to conduct research on public attitudes towards gay and lesbian parenting. She is the author of Test Tube Families and the co-author of several other books, including a leading family law textbook.

June Carbone is the Edward A. Smith/Missouri Chair of Law, the Constitution and Society at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Professor Carbone writes extensively about the legal issues surrounding marriage, divorce, and family organization, especially within the context of the recent revolutions in biotechnology. She is the author of From Partners to Parents: The Second Revolution in Family Law and co-author of the third edition of Family Law, with Leslie Harris and the late Lee Teitelbaum.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Part One: Family Maps
1. Moral Demography
2. Sexual History
3. The Age of Division
4. Personality, Politics, and Religion
Part Two: The Legal Map
5. Contraception: Securing the Pathways to Blue Family Life
6. Abortion, Law and the Cognitive Map
7. The Irrationality of Adolescence: What the Adults Are Really Fighting Over
8. The Marrying Laws
9. Custody and Compromise
Part Three: The Map to the Future
10. Marriage Advice in Shades of Pink
11. Making Ready for Baby: Painting the Nursery Sky Blue
12. Work and Family: Retooling the Foundation in Deep Purple
Conclusion

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 14, 2010

    Dueling Visions of Families, Law and Culture

    This is an important and timely book. It convincingly explores the intersection of culture, law and family policy and illuminates the differing visions of family that underlie many of our nation's ongoing culture wars. The authors show how the political and legal clashes produced by these divisions have exacerbated economic and racial inequalities and undermined our nation's ability to provide for those most in need. In the final portion of the book the authors offer proposals for middle ground solutions that hold the promise of bridging these cultural collisions and rebuilding shared understandings of family.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2010

    Fair & Balanced????????

    For a political book I would rate it as not to fair and balanced

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 4 Customer Reviews

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