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The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today
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The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  27 reviews
From one of the nation’s leading experts on the American family, a book that explores the state of marriage in America today; its evolution culturally; and with regard to religion and the law, how and why the present state of marriage—a merry-go-round of partnerships—developed, and the implications for parents and children.

During Andrew J. Cherlin’s three decades of study
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Knopf (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 359)
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Shawn
Recently I had occasion to be in a county tax office and observed several couples there to obtain marriage licenses. After having just finished this book, seeing different couples at different points in their lives caused me to reflect on the researched perspectives on marriage that are discussed in this book. It hasn't been that long since I was in the same position myself, contemplating marriage at a relatively young age to a relatively young bride (relative to current American trends). I beli ...more
David Rathel
In this work Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, offers an overview of the state of marriage in contemporary American society. He argues that Americans hold two rather unique convictions regarding marriage: 1) they value the institution of marriage and believe it to be an important component of a healthy society and 2) they simultaneously desire autonomy and free choice.
Cherlin believes these two seemingly contradictory convictions account for the fact that Americans ente
...more
Vilo
This was a very interesting study on marriage in the U.S. historically and today. The author makes comparisons with European countries. Americans seem to hold two somewhat contradictory values very dear, often not realizing how they can conflict. One is the importance of marriage. The other is the importance of independence and self-fulfillment. As family and institutional supports for marriage have fallen away and people are more mobile, they tend to leave marriages if they feel personally unsa ...more
Michelle Llewellyn
After reading Premarital Sex in America I see that Cherlin only showed us the tip of the iceburg as to the real WHY of Americans marrying too much. I feel he was too quick to lay all the blame of cohabitation, multiple partners, marriage, divorce and re-marriage on women. As if men have no choice but to move in with the marriage-resistant woman. The best chapter is the last one-SLOW DOWN-the only sane words of medicine for our sick patient.
I'm a never married woman. I have no kids. I did more
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John Kennedy
Researcher and sociologist Cherlin has discovered that Americans marry and divorce at higher rates than anywhere else. Likewide, no country promotes marriage like the U.S., nor is same-sex marriage as much of a political powderkeg as here. Contributing to marital instability is the fact that cohabitation rates in the U.S. are shorter than elsewhere.

Cherlin traces the history of marriage in America, showing the unique forces that have led to today's dilemma: a free-market approach to life that ha
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Misha
Anyhow, I am on page 129. He just described how in europe governments
and people are skittish about giving gay and lesbian couples
reproductive rights (artificial incemination, surrogacy) while
americans are being rather liberal on that account. In
Britain/France/Norway/Switcerland there are laws against assisting gay
or even umarried women with artificial incemination. This kind of
refreshing with us constantly talking about americans being socially
backward and reactionary.

Then, Churlin talks about B
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Maxine
Thought-provoking and accessible, this is the middle ground between free-loving liberals and conservative alarmists when it comes to the reality of American marriage. Though fairly basic and somewhat repetitive (especially if you already have some familiarity with sociology or family studies), this book is an excellent overview and introduction to the topic.
Jacqui
The biggest idea I took from this book is that Americans tend to rush into relationships--cohabiting and marriage--more quickly than people in other developed nations. They also rush out of them quickly when things don't seem to be working out, and all this churn is bad for kids. The author suggests that we slow down, and that a stable single parent household will be better for kids in the long run than one where the parent has a series of partners that rotate in and out, disrupting family routi ...more
Becky
Cherlin says there are far more marriages and divorces in the U.S. than in the rest of the developed world. He attributes this to two conflicting ideas in American thought: the importance/desirability of marriage, and its seeming opposite, individualism. He says Americans aren't even divided into two camps -- it's more that the same conflicting ideas coexist in each of our brains. It's too late at night for me to make much sense, so I'll just say that if you're interested in sociology and marria ...more
Simone

I technically read this book for my Sociology of the Family class, but it was definitely a book I would have read without the class. I liked it a fair amount. I thought it was a compelling argument for the state of marriage in the United States as it oddly intersects with our crazy religious but high divorcing culture. Also it refrained from doing what a lot of other books on the subject do, which is primarily blame women for wanting to be full partners in a marriage and have access to reliable
...more
Ryan-Brighid
An interesting look at the great contradictions that have been prevalent throughout all of America's history between the cultural models of marriage and individualism, and how these contradictory views keep the "marriage-go-round" turning. It got me thinking about a lot of things I wouldn't have previously as deeply considered, though I do wish there was more of a "call to action" at the book's conclusion; it largely leaves it up to the reader what is best (the closest thing would be the suggest ...more
Voracious
Thoroughly researched, well reasoned and very readable. Discusses the somewhat contradictory beliefs in the importance of both marriage and self-determination/independence held by many Americans. Examines historical and current influences on marriage.

Surprised to see that NZ has a higher rate than the US of kids experiencing the break-up of their parents' relationship. 42%! I know hardly any NZ parents my own age who are divorced - just a handful of folks in their fifties and sixties. Possibly b
...more
Mindy
Could have been interesting, but it was dry and boring.
Adrian
I think it's really 3 1/2 stars. It was interesting up until the last chapter, after which reading I felt like the author had been exploiting me to make a buck- he was trying to write something that would be popular and so he saved all the stuff that would make me realize that there wasn't much to learn for the last chapter. Blah. But all the things he did talk about have really changed the way that I see marriage around me, so I guess it must have been a pretty engaging book. I have recommended ...more
Traci
Scholarly, but not dry. Well worth a read.
Holly
I thought this was terrific. I'm not going to bother to summarize Cherlin's thesis, but I thought he was very successful at integrating and explaining a lot of information. He also did a very admirable job of starting with the data and following where it pointed instead of trying to shape the data to fit a predetermined end. No matter what your expectations and beliefs about marriage, you will learn something from this book and you will be surprised about what our behaviors actually reveal.
Alice
It's not a terribly exciting (as in whiz bang things happen) book, but it is interesting to see how Cherlin examines the contradictory cultural attitudes and the strange veneration (as compared to other Western countries) Americans have towards marriage. There's a lot of fascinating information that both contradicts and confirms a lot of perceptions about marriage and childbearing across different classes and races. It is tasty and sociological.
Teresa
A fascinating social history of marriage (and divorce) in the United State written by the head of the Sociology Department at Johns Hopkins University. Filled with counter-intuitive facts, the book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the various historical "meanings" of marriage. In the end the book will make you question what exactly marriage means to you as an individual. I highly recommend.
Elyssa
This book provides a good overview of the history of marriage, statistics about marriage and divorce, and the impact of family instability on children. Most interesting was the difference between marriage in the United States and other countries. I appreciated that the author based his writing on statistics and hard evidence and the information he provides is sometimes surprising and always enlightening.
Emily
I used this in my Sociology of the Family course, and it was a thousand times better than using a textbook. Highly readable and informative. Cherlin does a great job outlining the trends in American family life, how American families are different that families in other countries, and how our cultural toolkit in the US is full of conflicting messages about marriage and family.
M
It was very interesting to read about how other countries view marriage differently. I'd wondered about how other countries passed civil partnership laws, and it's because their views about marriage are so different. We are the only country that pushes marriage. Other countries are mostly concerned with how parent partnerships affect children.
WiscJennyAnn
Worst title ever. That said, Cherlin-- highly respected. A book that was needed, as we were still referring to Becker and Cherlin's 1992 text. Wish there were more contextual comparisons. He has something new to say re: the "M-factor."
Leah
Enjoyable read with good insight - wasn't sure it was worth the full book as opposed to an article, but definitely was
Adam
goodness gracious, if you are going to spend 3 pages describing numbers, include a damn graph or picture!
Amy Turner
Interesting observations on the evolution of marriage and the American attitude towards sit
John
Very insightful into the changing dynamics and influences of marriage.
Jane
Jun 19, 2010 Jane rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jane by: Julie G.
This is the professional sociologist's take on marriage in this country.
Michelle
Jun 24, 2013 Michelle marked it as to-read
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Seeta
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