Appeared in Autumn 2001, Vol. XXVI, No. 3
I. INTRODUCTION: TWO KEY QUESTIONS
David Blankenhom’s impressive volume, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (New York: Basic Books, 1995), not only raises two key questions of central concern to the fate of our civilization but also answers them in a manner that flies in the face of the current liberal views on fatherlessness. The first question deals with the primary cause of fatherlessness in contemporary America. Blankenhorn rejects the basic answer offered by the mainstream progressive academic establishment, which argues that socio-economic structural factors (economic inequality for the poor and increasing socio-economic status for middle-class women) as well as various forms of discrimination (e.g. sexism, racism, homophobia, nativism) foster the breakdown of family life. The radical feminist sociologist, Judith Stacey, represents such progressivist thinking when she states that “centrists” like David Blankenhorn “have it backward when they argue that the collapse of traditional family values is at the heart of our social decay.”
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