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"The Marriage-Go-Round" illuminates the shifting nature of America's most cherished social institution and explains its striking differences from marriage in other Western countries.
Andrew J. Cherlin's three decades of study have shown him that marriage in America is a social and political battlefield in a way that it isn't in other developed countries. Americans marry and divorce more often and have more live-in partners than Europeans, and gay Americans have more interest in legalizing same-sex marriage. The difference comes from Americans' embrace of two contradictory cultural ideals: marriage, a formal commitment to share one's life with another; and individualism, which emphasizes personal choice and self-development. Religion and law in America reinforce both of these behavioral poles, fueling turmoil in our family life and heated debate in our public life. Cherlin's incisive diagnosis is an important contribution to the debate and points the way to slowing down the partnership merry-go-round.
About the Author
Andrew J. Cherlin is Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Public Policy and Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. He received a B.S. from Yale University in 1970 and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1976. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, Public and Private Families: An Introduction. His other books include Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage (revised and enlarged edition, 1992), Divided Families: What Happens to Children when Parents Part (with Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., 1991), The Changing American Family and Public Policy (1988), and The New American Grandparent: A Place in the Family, A Life Apart (with Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., 1986). In 1989-1990 he was chair of the Family Section of the American Sociological Association. In 1999 he was president of the Population Association of America, the scholarly organization for demographic research.
In 2005, Professor Cherlin was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He recived the Distinguished Career Award in 2003 from the Family Section of the American Sociological Association. In 2001, he received the Olivia S. Nordberg Award for Excellence in Writing in the Population Sciences; and in 1999, he was President of the Population Association of America. He was also received a Merit Award from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for his research on the effects of family structure onchildren. His recent articles include "The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage," in the Journal of Marriage and Family; "The Influence of Physical and Sexual Abuse on Marriage and Cohabitation," in the American Sociological Review; and "American Marriage in the Early Twenty-First Century," in The Future of Children.
He also has written many articles for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Newsweek, and other periodicals. He has been interviewed on ABC News Nightline, the Today Show, network evening news programs, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and other news programs and documentaries.
“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