The divorce culture

Front Cover
Alfred A. Knopf, Jan 14, 1997 - Family & Relationships - 224 pages
0 Reviews
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's Atlantic Monthly article "Dan Quayle Was Right" ignited a media debate on the effects of divorce that rages still. In The Divorce Culture she expands her argument. She shows us how our high-divorce society is creating a low-commitment culture where the breaking of bonds becomes a defining fact and metaphor in our most vital human relations, and where the interests and needs of children are increasingly neglected. Using a variety of cultural sources - children's books, greeting cards, and the literature of self-help, etiquette, and advice - as well as psychological and sociological research, she provides historical perspective and shows how Americans who once viewed divorce as a last resort have come to see it as an entitlement. She traces the change most particularly to the mid-sixties, when a major, and troublesome, shift took place, leading to what she calls "expressive divorce" - divorce as an individual prerogative, and as a source of personal growth and new opportunity. Whitehead does not oppose divorce as such. She assumes that it is often the only possible remedy for an irretrievably broken or violence-ridden marriage. Rather, it is against casual divorce that she argues - divorce that focuses on one person's rights, needs, and desires without regard to the consequences for others, especially children. And she makes us see how little attention is paid to preparation for marriage, with the result that it all too frequently turns out to be short-term, contingent, and subject to abrupt termination.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

THE DIVORCE CULTURE: How Divorce Became an Entitlement and How It Is Blighting the Lives of Our Children

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

An eloquent diatribe against divorce as an entitlement in which the interests of other ``stakeholders,'' particularly children, are subordinated to the enhancement of self. Social historian Whitehead ... Read full review

The divorce culture

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Elaborating on her controversial Atlantic Monthly article, "Dan Quayle Was Right," Whitehead itemizes the deleterious effects of divorce on children and attributes many social pathologies to divorce ... Read full review


The Making of a Divorce Culture 3
The Rise of Expressive Divorce
The Divorce Ethic

6 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases