Book Reviews -- Families on the Fault Line: America's Working Class Speaks about the Family, the Economy, Race, and Ethnicity by Lillian B. Rubin

Article excerpt

Families on the Fault Line: America's Working Class Speaks about the Family, the Economy, Race, and Ethnicity, Lillian B. Rubin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994. 284 pp. ISBN 0-06-016741-6. $23.00 cloth.

Nearly 20 years after writing her classic study, Worlds of Pain, Lillian B. Rubin returns to the subject of working-class families in her latest book, Families on the Fault Line. As she notes, "In the intervening years, enormous social, political and economic changes have been at work, defining and redefining family and social life, relations between women and men, between parents and children, and among the various ethnic and racial groups that make up the tapestry of American life. The time had come, therefore, to take another look at working-class family life..." (p. 7).

The book is based on interviews Rubin conducted with 162 working-class and lower middle-class families in various cities across the United States. In addition to the interview material, Rubin also interweaves findings from selected research studies, as well as her own insights based on personal experiences and psychotherapy skills.

Families on the Fault Line describes working-class families of various ethnic and racial backgrounds during a period in which the economy has contracted and shifted. The author examines the detrimental impact and stress this has had upon family life. She also looks at how and why the working class often use the issue of race and ethnicity to direct and vent their anger, rather than recognizing the more fundamental constraints of class. …