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The Social Origins of Private Life

The Social Origins of Private Life: A History of American Families 1600-1900 by Stephanie Coontz
English | 2016 | ISBN-10: 0860919072 | 376 pages | ePUB | 1.9 MB
A highly original account of the evolution of the family unit

Current debates about the future of the family are often based on serious misconceptions about its past. Arguing that there is no biologically mandated or universally functional family form, Stephanie Coontz traces the complexity and variety of family arrangements in American history, from Native American kin groups to the emergence of the dominant middle-class family ideal in the 1890s.

Surveying and synthesizing a vast range of previous scholarship, as well as engaging more particular studies of family life from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, Coontz offers a highly original account of the shifting structure and function of American families. Her account challenges standard interpretations of the early hegemony of middle-class privacy and “affective individualism,” pointing to the rich tradition of alternative family behaviors among various ethnic and socioeconomic groups in America, and arguing that even middle-class families went through several transformations in the course of the nineteenth century.

The Social Origins of Private Life

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