I’ve been behind in updating the blog, but I wanted to mention two articles I wrote recently for The Atlantic‘s website.
“America, Home of the Transactional Marriage” looks at the ways that marriages fray after a job loss—which, in today’s tough economy, hurts working-class people particularly hard:
Why are those with less education—the working class—entering into, and staying in, traditional family arrangements in smaller and smaller numbers?… What’s at the core of those changes is a larger shift: The disappearance of good jobs for people with less education has made it harder for them to start, and sustain, relationships. What’s more, the U.S.’s relatively meager safety net makes the cost of being unemployed even steeper than it is in other industrialized countries—which prompts many Americans to view the decision to stay married with a jobless partner in more transactional, economic terms. And this isn’t only because of the financial ramifications of losing a job, but, in a country that puts such a premium on individual achievement, the emotional and psychological consequences as well. Even when it comes to private matters of love and lifestyle, the broader social structure—the state of the economy, the availability of good jobs, and so on—matters a great deal.
Last month’s “Are Campus Activists Too Dogmatic?” was my take on campus politics and the counterproductive focus on sin:
At the core of the issue is a troubling tendency, on both the left and right, that goes well beyond college campuses: a consuming obsession with sin. Given the right’s religious base, it’s not all that surprising that conservatives focus on moral transgressions—whether they violate God’s divine law, America’s founding ideals of liberty, ’50s-style norms of sexual behavior and good housekeeping, or other codes of conduct. But the left can be prudish and judgmental about the evils it holds in special contempt, too. On college campuses in particular, activists often take an almost religious approach to politics, rooted in a belief—sometimes stated, sometimes implied—in the irredeemable sin of America and its mainstream. Their work on vital issues gets diverted from real-world objectives and takes on the character of a church revival, with rituals to express its believers’ sin and salvation, and a fundamentalist attention to language and doctrine.
By the way, on Monday I’ll be doing a live, on-air interview on KERA, the NPR station in Dallas. I’ll be on THINK, the station’s daily talk show, talking about my piece for The Atlantic about transactional marriages. The interview will be from 1-2 p.m. ET (12-1 p.m. CT), and it looks like you can listen to it online at keranews.org. Thanks for all your support!