New Reviews of RSF Books Abandoned Families and Fictive Kinship

September 18, 2017

The most recent issue of Social Service Review contains a review of Kristin Seefeldt’s 2016 book Abandoned Families: Social Isolation in the Twenty-First Century. Reviewer Psalm Brown (University of Chicago) calls the book “important” and writes that Seefeldt “offers an insightful perspective on how concentrated disadvantage and institutions operating in these areas contribute to a deficit of both economic and social capital.” In her book, Seefeldt interviews low-income women in Detroit and finds that despite their efforts to rise out of poverty—including working, enroll in higher education, and attempting to use social safety net benefits in times of crisis—many working families have access only to a separate but unequal set of poor-quality jobs, low-performing schools, and declining housing markets which offer few chances for upward mobility. Brown writes, “Overall, Abandoned Families makes a compelling case for social interventions that go beyond preparing people for jobs or education in segregated, dead-end markets.”

RSF author Catherine Lee’s 2013 book Fictive Kinship: Family Reunification and the Meaning of Race and Nation in American Immigration has also been reviewed in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and Contemporary Sociology. Calling the book “highly relevant and timely,” reviewer Aprilfaye Manalang (Norfolk State University) commends Fictive Kinship as a significant “contribution to the under-researched and timely topic of family reunification.” In her book, Lee explores the history of family reunification policies, or immigration laws that seek to preserve family unity during or following migration. Today, roughly 70 percent of all visas for legal immigration are reserved for family members of permanent residents or American citizens, but Lee shows that family reunification policies have existed in some form in American statutes since at least the mid-nineteenth century. Drawing from a rich set of archival sources, Lee argues that our conceptions of family have shaped immigration, the meaning of race, and the way we see ourselves as a country. As Manalang notes, “Lee is able to show how normative ideas about the family have been instrumental in defining who was allowed to enter the United States and who was excluded.”

Read more about Fictive Kinship or purchase a copy of the book.

Read more about Abandoned Families or purchase a copy of the book.

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