The Unfinished Revolution

The Unfinished Revolution : How a New Generation is Reshaping Family, Work, and Gender in America

3.28 (88 ratings by Goodreads)
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The vast changes in family life-the rise of single, same-sex, and two-paycheck parents-have often been blamed for declining morality and unhappy children. Drawing upon pioneering research with the children of the gender revolution, Kathleen Gerson reveals that it is not a lack of "family values," but rigid social and economic forces that make it difficult to live out those values. In the controversial public debate over modern American families, The Unfinished Revolution takes a measured approach, looking at the young adults who grew up in the tumultuous post-feminist period. Despite the entrance of women into the workforce and the blurring of once clearly defined gender boundaries, men and women live in a world where the demands of balancing parenting and work, autonomy and commitment, time and money are left largely unresolved. Gerson finds that while an overwhelming majority of young men and women see an egalitarian balance within committed relationships as the ideal, today's social and economic realities remain based on traditional-and now obsolete-distinctions between breadwinning and caretaking. In this equity vacuum, men and women develop conflicting strategies, with women stressing self-reliance and men seeking a new traditionalism. With compassion for all perspectives, Gerson argues that whether one decides to give in to traditionally imbalanced relationships or to avoid marriage completely, these approaches are second-best responses, not personal preferences or inherent attributes, and they will shift if new options can be created to help people achieve their egalitarian aspirations. The Unfinished Revolution makes clear recommendations for the kinds of workplace and community changes that would best bring about a more egalitarian family life-a new flexibility at work and at home that benefits families, encourages a thriving economy, and helps women and men integrate love and more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 11 black and white line illustrations
  • 0195371674
  • 9780195371673
  • 1,496,919

About Kathleen Gerson

Kathleen Gerson is Professor of Sociology at New York University. A recognized authority on work, gender, and family life, she frequently contributes to media such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, NBC Today Show, ABC Good Morning America, and CNN. Her most recent books include No Man's Land: Men's Changing Commitments to Family and Work and The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality (with Jerry A. Jacobs).show more

Review quote

"Preachers, pundits, and politicians blather endlessly about family values, traditional marriage, and child-rearing, but no one with real authority has asked the kids themselves what works best-until now. The brilliant social scientist Kathleen Gerson revolutionizes a stale debate with her breakthrough research on how adult children view their upbringing and what that means for their futures-and ours. Gerson provides definitive evidence that families with flexible gender strategies meet social and economic challenges far better than those with rigid gender roles, who are often unable to sustain secure homes when confronted by financial or marital crises." --Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake"Gerson's Unfinished Revolution is the most important book on issues of work and family balance since Hochschild's Second Shift. Vividly portraying how family change has impacted the hopes, dreams, and possibilities for future generations, this book effectively transforms the terms of the debate on the American family today." --Sharon Hays, Barbra Streisand Professor in Contemporary Gender Studies and Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California "Kathleen Gerson's Unfinished Revolution is an elegant and powerful account of the gender and family revolution that has transformed our society and politics, viewed through the young adults who have lived through these transforming decades. While politics seeks to freeze and distort and polarize the change, Gerson shows a textured, flexible, uncertain and shifting reality that challenges all our assumptions. Her book helps us understand this Obama generation, tolerant of the diverse choices now facing men and women and families and hoping politics can transcend old formulas and lines." --Stanley Greenberg, author of The Two Americas"A compassionate, insightful study of how young men and women struggle to reconcile their desires for partnered commitment and personal autonomy with the realities of today's work and family trends. Gerson shows us why most, despite ambivalence and stress, do not want to return to the family patterns of the past--and suggests how we can help them move forward." --Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History"The third installment in a classic trilogy exploring the changing relations between work, family, and gender, The Unfinished Revolution vividly examines the interaction between social structure, biography, and history. Gerson's analysis is theoretically sophisticated and remarkably complex. Most significant, she finds that 'traditional' families do not necessarily provide children with a better environment than single-parent or dual-earner ones, and that the most important feature of successful families appears to be their ability to cope with change in a flexible manner."--Eviatar Zerubavel, Board of Governors Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University "Following her earlier pathbreaking studies of gender, Kathleen Gerson now takes us into an illuminating exploration of the 'children of the gender revolution.' A virtuoso interviewer, Gerson discovers young women and men struggling to reconcile their ideals of flexible and egalitarian intimate relations with persistent structural and cultural constraints. With style and brio The Unfinished Revolution offers revealing and often surprising insights into the present and future of American families." --Viviana A. Zelizer, Lloyd Cotsen '50 Professor of Sociology, Princeton University "This is not a battle that can be won with legal challenges or legislation. Yes, it would undoubtedly be greatly aided by the passage of major social policies such as universal child care. But at its core, this is a fight that plays out within homes and between partners. And as Gerson's research makes clear, the fight has not changed all that dramatically in the past 30 years." --The American Prospect"A new powerful account of how children of the gender revolution are reshaping family, work and gender in America.... Gerson revolutionizes a stale debate looking at family changes in an unconventional way.... A very fascinating book."--Sociologica"Kathleen Gerson's Unfinished Revolution marks a major conceptual advance by depicting families as pathways, rather than static structural forms."--Contemporary Sociology"Carefully researched and lucidly written.... An important contribution to the intertwined research literatures on family, work, and gender. Written in an elegant and accessible style, with extensive use of interview quoations, the book is appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate courses."--Gender and Societyshow more

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION: ; 1. The Shaping of a New Generation ; PART I: ; GROWING UP IN CHANGING FAMILIES ; 2. Families beyond the Stereotypes ; 3. The Rising Fortunes of Flexible Families ; 4. Domestic Deadlocks and Declining Fortunes ; PART II: FACING THE FUTURE ; 5. High Hope, Lurking Fears ; 6. Women's Search for Self-Reliance ; 7. Men's Resistance to Equal Sharing ; 8. Reaching Across the Gender Divide ; CONCLUSION: ; 9. Finishing the Gender Revolution ; APPENDIX 1: LIST OF RESPONDENTS AND SAMPLE DEMOGRAPHICS ; APPENDIX 2: STUDYING SOCIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CHANGE ; REFERENCES ; NOTESshow more

Rating details

88 ratings
3.28 out of 5 stars
5 16% (14)
4 24% (21)
3 38% (33)
2 18% (16)
1 5% (4)
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