The numbers can't be ignored: the current generation of young Americans is delaying marriage longer than any other generation in history. But while the media trumpets this fact in a way that seems designed to scare us, until now no one has really taken the time to understand what people are doing instead.
Driven by his personal desire to understand why his single life stretched far into his thirties, Ethan Watters explores the cultural and social forces that have steered his generation away from the altar-and discovers many reasons to be optimistic about the course his generation has chosen. Central to his thinking is the idea of Urban Tribes: the closely knit communities of friends that spring up during the ever-increasing period of time between college and married life. Tribes are revealed to be the key to understanding this generation, explaining not only why its members are putting off marriage, but also why singles often live outside of families so happily. In the end, Watters makes the case that the tribe years engender the self-respect critical to successful partnerships.
A funny, deeply insightful, and compulsively readable book that dares to suggest that the generation in question just might be interested in more than buying the latest SUV and drinking lattes at the local coffeehouse, Urban Tribes is destined to become one of the most talked-about books of the year.
"This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Urban Tribes redefines the debate over the nature of community and social cohesion in society today. Ethan Watters provides powerful insight into the rise of new kinds of cities and support structures for the growing class of creative, single people inhabiting leading urban centers in the United States and around the world." -Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life
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Ethan Watters is a journalist who has written about social trends for publications from Glamour to the New York Times Magazine. Recently married, he lives with his wife in San Francisco, where he helped found the San Francisco Writers' Grotto.From Publishers Weekly:
Journalist Watters parlays his 2001 New York Times Magazine think piece and subsequent Good Morning America appearance into a debut book, a sociological examination of the pleasures of a segment of his generation-the "yet to be marrieds" ages 25 to 39. They're the ones who live in bohemian garrets yet feel affluent because their baby boomer parents will probably leave them their money. They host great New Year's Eve parties and travel en masse to the New Orleans Jazz Festival. They're the "Burning Man" generation, drawn like lemmings to the annual desert art festival. Demographers call them "never-marrieds" and say they're one of the fastest-growing groups in America. Most tellingly, in Watters's view, the habit of establishing "urban tribes"-rotating networks of friends and acquaintances-covers all functions formerly served by the traditional family, thus eliminating the need for marriage and intimacy. It's often a white, upper-middle-class, post-college phenomenon (Watters attends a Philadelphia Cinco de Mayo celebration to which, he notes, no Hispanics have been invited), but, finds Watters, "groups that formed later, during the swirl of adult city life, could sometime[s] match the remarkable diversity of those communities." He refutes claims by sociologists that modern youth has lost the civic-mindedness of previous generations by describing urban tribes' "different style[s] of giving back." He also delves into the eternal conundrum of why men don't like to commit, consulting average Joes and psychologists alike, and questions the "stigma of single life." Sure, these issues have been raised before, but Watters's breezy writing and sunny optimism are refreshing, and his evocation of the good times of San Francisco's dot-com boom years has period charm to burn.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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