Proposing Prosperity?: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America by Jennifer RandlesProposing Prosperity?: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America by Jennifer Randles

Proposing Prosperity?: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America

byJennifer Randles

Hardcover | December 27, 2016

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"Fragile families"-unmarried parents who struggle emotionally and financially-are one of the primary targets of the Healthy Marriage Initiative, a federal policy that has funded marriage education programs in nearly every state. These programs, which encourage marriage by teaching relationship skills, are predicated on the hope that married couples can provide a more emotionally and financially stable home for their children.

Healthy marriage policy promotes a pro-marriage culture in which two-parent married families are considered the healthiest. It also assumes that marriage can be a socioeconomic survival mechanism for low-income families, and an engine of upward mobility.

Through interviews with couples and her own observations and participation in marriage education courses, Jennifer M. Randles challenges these assumptions and critically examines the effects of such classes on participants. She takes the reader inside healthy marriage classrooms to reveal how their curricula are reflections of broader issues of culture, gender, governance, and social inequality. In analyzing the implementation of healthy marriage policy, Randles questions whether it should target individual behavior or the social and economic context of that behavior. The most valuable approach, she concludes, will not be grounded in notions of middle-class marriage culture. Instead, it will reflect the fundamental premise that love and commitment thrive most within the context of social and economic opportunity.

Jennifer M. Randles is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at California State University, Fresno. Her research explores how inequalities affect American family life and how policies address family formation trends.
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Title:Proposing Prosperity?: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in AmericaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:280 pagesPublished:December 27, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231170300

ISBN - 13:9780231170307

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1. Introduction: Learning and Legislating Love2. Rationalizing Romance: Reconciling the Modern Marriage Dilemma through Skilled Love3. Teaching Upward Mobility: Skilled Love and the Marriage Gap4. Intimate Inequalities and Curtailed Commitments: The Marriage Gap in a Middle-Class Marriage Culture5. The Missing "M Word": Promoting Committed Co-Parenting6. Men, Money, and Marriageability: Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Through Marital Masculinity7. "It's Not Just Us": Relationship Skills and Poverty's Perpetual Problems8. Conclusion: Family Inequality and the Limits of SkillsNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

In this important and valuable book, Jennifer Randles immerses herself in state-run relationship classes, and shows they teach more about the politics and ideology of marriage promotion than about solving the pressing problems poor families face. She exposes the irony that, although relationship skills training may be useful, it won't address the problems of family inequality.