American Families : A Multicultural Reader book cover
2nd Edition

American Families
A Multicultural Reader

Edited By

Stephanie Coontz

ISBN 9780415958219
Published March 6, 2008 by Routledge
488 Pages

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Book Description

In the past forty years, American families have become more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before. Different family forms and living arrangements have also multiplied, with single-parent families, cohabiting couples with children, divorced couples with children, stepfamilies, and newly-visible same-sex families. During the same period, socioeconomic inequality among families has risen to levels not seen since the 1920s.

This second edition of American Families offers several benefits:

  • clear conceptual focus
  • new attention to the historical origins of contemporary family diversity
  • well-chosen essays by leading names from across the curriculum
  • explores the interactions between race-ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality in shaping family life
  • cCompletely updated and expanded bibliography of related sources
  • new companion website with student and instructor resources to enhance learning.

Leading off with a comprehensive and teachable introduction to the topic, this completely updated, revised, and expanded second edition of Stephanie Coontz's classic collection American Families remains the best resource available on family diversity in America.

For additional information and classroom resources please visit the American Families companion website at




Stephanie Coontz is Professor of Family History at the Evergreen State College. She is the author of numerous books, including Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.

Maya Parson is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Gabrielle Raley is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.


'What a collection of articles! Stephanie Coontz has gathered together the writing of many of the most important scholars of our time to address one of the most important issues of our time – the growing diversity of American families. A great choice for undergraduate classrooms and an addition to any scholar’s bookshelf.' – Barbara J. Risman, Author of Gender Vertigo: American Families in Transition

'American Families provides a powerful exploration of the challenges facing contemporary families. From the historical roots of inequality to tools to theorize the meanings of difference, this collection provides engaging readings that illustrate American past and present struggles, laced with hope for the future.' Jennifer A. Reich, Author of Fixing Families: Parents, Power, and the Child Welfare System

'American Families is a marvel the authors have identified some the very best and clearest new scholarship. The book affords an accurate, thoughtful and thought-provoking glimpse at family life in the US as it really is.'- Linda Gordon, Author of The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction

'The book is ideal for undergraduate teaching purposes. Family researchers, however, will also want to have this in-depth yet accessible resource on their shelves. Beyond the substantive findings presented, several chapters do a great job of synthesizing a range of scholarship related to family diversity and  outlining potentially fruitful avenues for subsequent theorizing and research. I highly recommend this volume. Several articles left me wanting more, excited about the unanswered questions and future research possibilities related to family diversity. Coontz's volume takes a big leap forward in shifting issues of diversity to the center of family research.'- Jennifer Utrata, Assistant Professor, University of Puget Sound, in the Journal of Marriage and Family