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The Marriage-Go-Round


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About the Author

Andrew J. Cherlin is the Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Johns Hopkins University and is the author of Public and Private Families. His articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, and on the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications. He has been a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the Distinguished Career Award from the Family Section of the American Sociological Association. He lives in Baltimore.


Cherlin (public policy, Johns Hopkins Univ.) is a longtime observer of marriage, American-style: his 1983 book, Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, has been revised several times and is still in print, though the scope of the latest edition ends with the early 1990s. Picking up where that book left off, this volume looks at recent developments regarding same-sex marriage, changes in family court decisions, and newer models of marriage and family life. These developments trouble Cherlin, who suggests that Americans' apparently unique propensity to marry, remarry, and participate in short-term cohabiting relationships destabilizes families and takes a considerable toll on the children who are subject to a revolving door of household participants. Cherlin's most acute observations concern the tensions that arise as a result of Americans' high regard for marriage but also for self-expression and personal growth, which allows people to cast marriage aside easily. Cherlin calls his last chapter "Slow Down," counseling Americans to reflect more carefully on how to balance their sense of individuality with their expectations of the "fragile accomplishment" that is marriage. A scholarly treatment of American family life for students of the subject.-Ellen Gilbert, Princeton, NJ Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"A landmark new book." --Time

"Intriguing. . . . Provocative. . . . Cherlin has come up with an original thesis [to explain] this peculiar paradox--we idealize marriage and yet we're so bad at it." --The New York Times

"A masterful comparative analysis. . . . Cherlin argues that Americans have a distinctive pattern . . . which stems from our simultaneous commitments to marriage and to self-expression and personal growth." --The American Prospect

"Cherlin is one of America's leading experts on the family. . . . His book delivers a stern warning to this fast-paced conjugal culture: 'Slow down--watch out for the children.'" --Commonweal

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