October 25, 2010

SAIS hosts forum on state of marriage in United States

In the second installment of the 2010–2011 Provost’s Lecture Series, SAIS will host a forum titled “The Marriage-Go-Round: How and Why Family Life Is Different in the United States Than in Other Wealthy Nations,” featuring a lecture by Andrew J. Cherlin, professor of sociology and public policy at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Cherlin is the author of The Marriage-Go-Round, published by Random House in 2009.

The event, which is part of “The Year of Demography” at SAIS, will take place at 5:30 p.m. today, Oct. 25, in the Nitze Building’s Kenney Auditorium.

According to Cherlin, marriage in America is a social and political battlefield in a way that it is not in other developed countries. Americans have more turnovers in their family lives, more spouses and partners moving in and out of the household, they marry and divorce more often and have more short-term live-in partners than Europeans, and gay Americans seem to have more interest in legalizing same-sex marriage. This distinctive pattern, Cherlin says, comes from Americans’ embrace of two contradictory cultural ideals: marriage, a formal commitment to share one’s life with another; and individualism, which emphasizes personal growth and self-development. Religion and law reinforce both behavioral poles, fueling turbulence in family life and heated debate in public life.

To attend the forum, non-SAIS affiliates should RSVP to saispubaffairs@jhu.edu or 202-663-5648.