The Divorce Culture

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Author
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Author Knopf Publishing Group $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-679-43230-2
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-679-75168-7
Hardcover - 978-0-517-36131-3
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Whitehead faults three strands in the development of a divorce culture: a shift in the ethic of obligation to an ethic of self, an all-American reconception of divorce as a right and woman-friendly socio-economic shifts. Her conservative defense of traditional marriage criticizes both capitalism and liberalism. She attributes the rise of what she terms ""expressive"" divorce to a ""model of family relationships based on marketplace notions of unfettered choice, limited warranties and contingent obligations."" Whitehead shows how all sides in the culture wars have accepted divorce as morally valid and how stressed fathers and mothers transmit the suffering of these choices to children, the conception of divorce as a ""psychological entitlement"" being adversarial to children. Her stories of children from divorced families are poignant, making this an important book for those with younger children considering divorce. The author's antidote is to stop thinking about marriage in terms of the marketplace and recommit ourselves to civic and religious traditions of obligation. Whitehead is a freelance writer who specializes on matters of family and child well-being. (Jan.)
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