Anita Dalton's Reviews > Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture

Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes
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May 18, 11

bookshelves: counter-culture, cultural-studies, non-fiction, work-issues, books-we-own
Read from May 01 to 06, 2011

Overall, I found this to be a pretty interesting look at a counter-cultural approach to living. Downshifters are nothing new, as this topic has been discussed in depth in many different books ever since the back to the land movement in the 1960s, but this updated look at this movement is definitely relevant. There are a couple of issues I don't think the author dealt with. One is that it would appear that most of those interviewed, as well as the author, live in rural New England. I think the book would have benefited had folks from the Southwest and South in general been interviewed because there are vast difference in rents, cost of living, and public transport availability between New England and places like Texas and Oklahoma.

Second, I was a bit taken aback with the author's dismissal for the need for health insurance. No doubt there are problems with the American health care system and no doubt health care insurance is prohibitive in cost for many families. The author's sense that obtaining exercise and eating very healthy food can eliminate many needs for health care makes sense on one level. Americans often live very unhealthy lives and eating better and obtaining proper exercise can eliminate some needs for medical care. Families that homeschool will also reduce the number of bugs brought into the home. I also appreciate the sort of fearlessness it takes to make such a decision. But it is troublesome to realize that the cost of being a radical home maker may mean exposing one's self to dreadful harm. Good food won't prevent genetically-linked cancers. Exercise won't make people bullet-proof, nor will it reduce the damage a human body receives if it is hit by a car. I really wish more attention had been paid to the idea that radical homemaking can leave families open to financial catastrophe or the very real possibility a family member could not afford life-saving medical care. This is a hard reality of living outside the realm of traditional paid work and it needs exploration. I would have given this book five stars had the author talked to a family whose child had cancer or kidney failure and showed how they managed or did not manage.
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message 1: by Tuck (new)

Tuck very good points about different regions of good ole usa having different realities like transportation, rents, rainfall, etc, and another good point about health care. Practically anything you need a doctor for will bankrupt you if you are cashless, even broken arm or tonsillitis could cost $1000's. I have heard that there is good, free health care in Norway and some place called Obamaland.


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