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Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age [Hardcover]

By Kay S. Hymowitz (Author)
Our Price $ 19.13  
Retail Value $ 22.50  
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Item Number 119346  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.64" Width: 5.82" Height: 0.84"
Weight:   0.81 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2006
Publisher   Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
ISBN  1566637090  
EAN  9781566637091  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Kay Hymowitz argues the results of the experiment separating marriage from childrearing are in, and they turn out to be bad news not only for children but also, in ways little understood, for the country as a whole. In fact our great family experiment threatens to turn what the founders imagined as an opportunity-rich republic of equal citizens into a hereditary caste society.

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More About Kay S. Hymowitz

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kay S. Hymowitz is the William E. Simon fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, where she writes extensively on education and childhood in America. She also writes for many major publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, New York Newsday, The Public Interest, Commentary, Dissent, and Tikkun. A regular commentator in the broadcast media, she earned a Masters of Philosophy from Columbia University and has taught at Brooklyn College and Parsons School of Design. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Kay S. Hymowitz currently resides in Brooklyn, in the state of New York. Kay S. Hymowitz was born in 1948.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
This book leaves more questions than answers  Jun 4, 2008
It is an interesting book, but as usual there's more of the usual generalizations and less in depth analysis into the problems of family life and why people aren't getting married. Unfortunately this book provides little to nothing new.

First and foremost, just like her City Journal articles, sources are never cited. And this is why I always have to take her writings with a grain of salt. I'd like to be able to analyze data from their original sources and the perspective of which that data was researched, not solely through the ideology of Ms. Hymowitz.

Second, I still haven't gotten an understanding of how the number of black marriages decreased significantly. W.E.B DuBois in the 1920s wrote a piece regarding the concern that illegitimacy in the black community was reaching 15%. FIFTEEN PERCENT!!! Obviously there was a time when the vast majority of blacks across the economic spectrum believed in the two parent home. What has happened since? What changes in the social & economic structure of the black community led to a diversion away from marriage? These are questions that can't be answered through statistics and university studies. I'd like to understand what the black person on Main Street says about this issue and not the well healed who preach from the ivory tower.

Third, I've personally observed better outcomes of single, middle class black women with children. Over the years I went to school and worked with these women and have witnessed them and their children seek higher education and gainful employment. How do they differ from their poorer counterparts? I think this is the most interesting yet critical issue of the discussion.

Fourth, where is the analysis on single parenting in other demographics other than the poor, single, black female led household with children? 50% of marriages are failing in the US. Since most blacks aren't getting hitched, that means the majority of failed marriages are presumably whites. Therefore there should be a sizeable population of white female led households with children. Is there a hazard for them as well? Or is she deflecting the same critical view away people like herself and onto the vulnerable minority?
What a waste of time!  Jan 30, 2008
Reading this book is like reading the old testament. Kay represents an older demographic, who resents the younger generations' acts of freedom and 'rebellion' toward conforming to the rules and regulations of 'society'. Just because a man or a woman doesn't want to marry and have children, and get a full time job, doesn't mean that they aren't 'grown-up', it just means that times are changing, and this author is stuck in the past. Just have a little read about her 'child-man' theory. She's a thorn in the feminist movement's side, and constantly offends 20-30 year old men around the world.
This book shows the importance of marriage for children  Jan 18, 2008
Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age by Kay S. Hymowitz is thought provoking, scary, and a bit uplifting. Kay Hymowitz's basic premise is society's greater acceptance of children outside of marriage over the last fifty years has had disastrous affects on children from poor parents.

The introduction starts with:

"My argument in these essays can easily be summed up: the breakdown of marriage in the United States - which began about forty years ago as divorce and out-of-wedlock birthrates started to soar - threatens America's future. It is turning us into a nation of separate and unequal families."

Kay frequently talks about the life scripts we have been taught. Like the scripts for a play, the options we are taught as children guide us through life, giving us direction and encouraging us to make certain choices.

Kay says that in general children from middle class and upper class families tend to leave home, go off to college, get an education, get a job, get marriage and then have children. Parents orient much of their life around teaching and guiding their children to follow the same life script.

In contrast children from poor parents tend to have little direction, often having babies while they are only fourteen or fifteen. They rarely marry, rarely go off to college, and rarely get decent jobs. They are never taught life skills like hard work and delayed gratification. They have a much different life script.

This book explains how important marriage and family are to society. The foundation of society is the family. Married parents see as their mission preparing their children to be adults. When children are raised outside of a strong family, the children suffer, and society suffers.

This book is well written. It makes a number of excellent points. I marked up almost every page. Here are a couple of the enlightening points:

1) Educated women are more likely to have children after marriage. They "... know they'd better marry if they want their children to succeed academically, which increasingly is critical to succeeding in the labor market." (p. 25)

2) Middle class parents raise their children differently that poor families. For example "... in the first years of life, the average number of words heard per hour was 2,150 for professors' kids, 1,250 for working-class children, and 620 for children in welfare families." (p. 80)

Much of the book focuses on children from black parents. The statistics are scary. Kay writes that the worst problems associated with the decline in marriage has happened in black families. Much of this seems to be a result of welfare. Though this was not the intention, black women were rewarded with money for leaving their man. In some cities in America 80% of the children are living with a single parent. The book shows how most of these children will not be part of the success that so many middle class children take for granted.

The book ends on a positive note. There are a number of statistics that hint we've hit bottom and marriage is on the rise. The percentage of marriages seems to be rising, and the number of divorces is falling.

This is a good book, well worth reading. I strongly encourage you to at least check it out from the library.
Marriage is so much more than two people 'in love'  Jun 27, 2007
This is a very powerful book. There are couple of concepts that really jumped out at me.

1) The modern notion that the primary purpose of marriage is personal happiness and expression, as oppose to child rearing. She really made some good arguments about why child rearing has to be the primary focus of marriage in a free and democratic society. In a society where the citizens are the final authority government should not be `raising' our children. Yet, with single parenthood on the rise and the inevitable burdens it puts on our social structure government is taking an increasingly larger part in the rearing of the next generation of citizens. Marriage has a truly positive material effect on the lives of children. What material effect (if any) does marriage really have on people declaring love for each alone?

2) The fact that alternative family structures are the last thing the African American community needs. African Americans have had alternative family structures for the last 30 plus years. Has it helped the dynamics and effectiveness of the black family over that time? African Americans have to be careful when we take on certain attitudes of the mainstream culture. We can not dismiss the positive effects marriage has on children as easily as other cultures can. Truthfully, I do not think other cultures should either. But as Ms. Hymowitz shows, the aftermath of that dismissal is much more devastating to a community where over 70% of the children are born to unmarried parents.

All in all, this is a powerful book that most American should read. There comes a point when we must become truly concerned about the generations coming behind us. Once we have had all our fun, what kind of society will we be leaving them? At what point do we sacrifice some personal desire for the good of our nation as a whole? The book may not be flawless, but it can ignite a great conversation that needs to take place in our current debates.

Good, but Have Three Concerns  Apr 5, 2007
Her book clarifies the psychology of the urban or inner city drift that characterizes so much of what Thomas Sowell hammers on in his own writings about "cultural capital." This is a good read.


1. It cites numerous other sources, but doesn't have a bibliography. I use bibliographies often to find other materials to read on a subject. Granted it would make the book several pages longer, but it would still be a good idea for the paperback edition.

2. She does not cite statistics about the prevalence of desire among homosexual folks to tie a legal knot even though she leads the reader to believe that part of her thesis is that the idea of homosexual marriage threatens the Founding Fathers' definition of marriage in the USA. My guess is that their numbers and percentages are so low that they would not make it onto the radar screen. But even if they are higher, she still does not try to explain why a legal union (why not call it a marriage?) that cannot produce children is anything like the threat from those who fail to inculcate the "american life script." In the instances when gay couples adopt from outside eithers' experience or raise each others' children, she fails to enumerate their results; my guess is that they are pretty good. Certainly I'd bet that gay couples rate higher than average on her other indicators of being likely to succeed in today's society.

3. In the last chapter, the one with reasons for hope, she does not connect her reasons to be hopeful to the inner city situation that she spent a great deal of time describing and explaining. All of her hopeful evidence strikes me as more likely to be psychologically relevant to those who were raised where the life script was at least being rebelled against instead of lost all together from the collective experience. Gen-Xers have a different culture than inner city, poor, young, single African-Americans. It is not clear that any of her cited evidence is relevant to the latter group.

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