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Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture

 
 
 
 
Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture
Author: Naomi Cahn - June Carbone
ISBN 13: 9780195372175
ISBN 10: 195372174
Edition: 1
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2010-03-08
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
List Price: $33.95
 
 

Red Families v. Blue Families identifies a new family model geared for the post-industrial economy. Rooted in the urban middle class, the coasts and the "blue states" in the last three presidential elections, the Blue Family Paradigm emphasizes the importance of women's as well as men's workforce participation, egalitarian gender roles, and the delay of family formation until both parents are emotionally and financially ready. By contrast, the Red Family Paradigm—associated with the Bible Belt, the mountain west, and rural America—rejects these new family norms, viewing the change in moral and sexual values as a crisis. In this world, the prospect of teen childbirth is the necessary deterrent to premarital sex, marriage is a sacred undertaking between a man and a woman, and divorce is society's greatest moral challenge. Yet, the changing economy is rapidly eliminating the stable, blue collar jobs that have historically supported young families, and early marriage and childbearing derail the education needed to prosper. The result is that the areas of the country most committed to traditional values have the highest divorce and teen pregnancy rates, fueling greater calls to reinstill traditional values.

Featuring the groundbreaking research first hailed in The New Yorker, this penetrating book will transform our understanding of contemporary American culture and law. The authors show how the Red-Blue divide goes much deeper than this value system conflict—the Red States have increasingly said "no" to Blue State legal norms, and, as a result, family law has been rent in two. The authors close with a consideration of where these different family systems still overlap, and suggest solutions that permit rebuilding support for both types of families in changing economic circumstances.

Incorporating results from the 2008 election, Red Families v. Blue Families will reshape the debate surrounding the culture wars and the emergence of red and blue America.

Publishers Weekly

Family law scholars Cahn (Test Tube Families) and Carbone (From Partners to Parents) defuse America’s bitter culture wars in this measured, statistics-based look at the societal pressures and changing economic realities that influence regional ideologies and voting patterns. The book focuses on the blue state/ red state division, acknowledging the demographic data suggesting that life patterns differ regionally, and that these differing family structures influence political allegiances: the bluest states have fewer teen mothers and lower divorce rates, and emphasize responsibility; red states have high teen birth and divorce rates and emphasize tradition. According to the authors, these core differences are the crucible from which the battles over abortion, same sex marriage, and contraception spring. Their suggestion? Return to a federalized approach that allows each region to address its constituents’ specific needs. The authors allow that a return to decentralization might not be feasible, but given the recent national debates over health care, the Stupak amendment, and same sex marriage laws, the book’s illuminating (if very technical) statistical data and dispassionate approach render it invaluable. (Apr.)