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Much public attention is given to the decline of marriage and the family in America, but few have thought to relate this decline to the changing ways in which Americans understand and practice courtship. The cultural wisdom and conventions that once guided young men and women in their efforts to find and win suitable partners for marriage are vanishing. Modesty and sexual restraint are ridiculed, while previously stigmatized behaviors such as casual sexual "hook-ups" and premarital cohabitation have become commonplace.
Wandering Toward the Altar explores the broader cultural changes behind the end of traditional American courtship, including the rise of youth culture and dating, the demise of the productive family household, careerism and the later age of first marriage, the replacement of romantic imagination with youthful cynicism about love and marriage, and the exclusion of home and family from the practices of courting. This four and one-half hour program features studio interviews with Leon and Amy Kass, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Wendy Shalit, Allan Carlson, Beth Bailey, Steven Nock, Kay Hymowitz, and Douglas Wilson, as well as extensive field reporting.