All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sep 18, 2012 - Political Science - 528 pages

In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty promised an array of federal programs to assist working-class families. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan declared the GOP the party of "family values" and promised to keep government out of Americans' lives. Again and again, historians have sought to explain the nation's profound political realignment from the 1960s to the 2000s, five decades that witnessed the fracturing of liberalism and the rise of the conservative right. The award-winning historian Robert O. Self is the first to argue that the separate threads of that realignment—from civil rights to women's rights, from the antiwar movement to Nixon's "silent majority," from the abortion wars to gay marriage, from the welfare state to neoliberal economic policies—all ran through the politicized American family.

Based on an astonishing range of sources, All in the Family rethinks an entire era. Self opens his narrative with the Great Society and its assumption of a white, patriotic, heterosexual man at the head of each family. Soon enough, civil rights activists, feminists, and gay rights activists, animated by broader visions of citizenship, began to fight for equal rights, protections, and opportunities. Led by Pauli Murray, Gloria Steinem, Harvey Milk, and Shirley Chisholm, among many others, they achieved lasting successes, including Roe v. Wade, antidiscrimination protections in the workplace, and a more inclusive idea of the American family.

Yet the establishment of new rights and the visibility of alternative families provoked, beginning in the 1970s, a furious conservative backlash. Politicians and activists on the right, most notably George Wallace, Phyllis Schlafly, Anita Bryant, and Jerry Falwell, built a political movement based on the perceived moral threat to the traditional family. Self writes that "family values" conservatives in fact "paved the way" for fiscal conservatives, who shared a belief in liberalism's invasiveness but lacked a populist message. Reagan's presidency united the two constituencies, which remain, even in these tumultuous times, the base of the Republican Party. All in the Family, an erudite, passionate, and persuasive explanation of our current political situation and how we arrived in it, will allow us to think anew about the last fifty years of American politics.


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User Review  - DarthDeverell - LibraryThing

In All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s, Robert O. Self argues, “If ‘equal rights’ had been the driving force of American politics in one era, three decades on ... Read full review

ALL IN THE FAMILY: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s

User Review  - Kirkus

Jampacked survey of the social movements since the 1960s that compelled America to become a more inclusive society—and created a potent conservative backlash.Self (History/Brown Univ.; American ... Read full review


Are You Man Enough? Sixties Breadwinner Liberalism
Vietnam and the Citizen Soldier
Gay Men and Sexual Citizenship
The Dilemmas of Market
The Politics of Reproduction
The Lesbian Political Imagination
The Sexual Politics of an Erotic Revolution
Liberalism in Trouble
The Breadwinner Conservatism
Antifeminism and the Crisis of the Family
God Family and Country in the Fourth Great
The Reagan Revolutions Gender and Sexual Politics
Neoliberalism and the Making of the Culture
Abbreviations Used in the Notes

From Liberation to Gay Politics

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About the author (2012)

Robert O. Self is an associate professor of history at Brown University. His first book, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland, won numerous awards, including the James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians.

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