After all, if competing statistics using different methodologies were used, it is still likely that Coontz would be able to prove that nostalgia blurs the line between fact and fiction. Coontz in fact uses statistics that are drawn from too many different sources and time periods to invalidate the thesis. The evidence used is drawn from numerous studies, from governmental and academic sources. The data extends into historical documents including primary sources. Coontz also draws data from such a wide variety of sources that the argument is wholly valid. For example, the author uses economic data, crime report statistics, birth statistics, and a myriad of other sources to prove the central point of the argument.
The myth of family values is a highly relevant political and social topic, which makes Coontzs argument relevant. Coontzs book is therefore an important one as well as a well-documented one. Coontz accomplishes the core goal of myth-bashing, albeit with a thinly disguised political agenda. The fact finding is accompanied by research integrity. Coontz addresses delicate issues including abortion, birth control, and teen pregnancies with aplomb.
Two-parent heterosexual families are not necessarily the end all and be all of the American social structure. In fact, gay parents and their children fare just as well as their heterosexual counterparts.
Coontz makes sure to incorporate race, class, gender, sexuality, and political power into the equation: variables that are too often overlooked in favor of a more simplistic vision. Conservative politicians appreciate a vision that is more simplistic than real, which is what the author is attempting to point out.
The Way We Never Were documents the evolution of the American family, and the subsequent progression of American family values. The American family itself has changed in structure and function. According to Coontz, the roles of men and women have changed dramatically. So too have the roles of children and teenagers. Children and teenagers were once viewed as sources of income — close to being property. Now, children and teenagers are not allowed to participate in the workforce before they acquire their government-approved schooling. Until relatively recently, women were not valid players in the workforce. Domestic violence was not treated as a valid social ill, nor as a crime, for police forces treated spousal abuse as a private issue. Thus, family values have changed for the better as gender, ethnic, economic, and social equity prevail.
Coontz, S. (2000). The Way.