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.
Playful without being ironic and meaningful without being sappy, Urban Tribes will be a seminal book. In a decade, we will look back and realize that this book changed how we look at the period during which young adults live between families. (Po Bronson, New York Times bestselling author of What Should I Do With My Life?)See all Product Description
I felt duped. This book is not about "urban tribes" so much as the author, a newly married father writing about his playboy days and the friends he used for emotional support. Read morePublished on March 7 2004
The fact that this book got published defies comprehension. It's poorly written, the author is completely unlikable and self-absorbed, and it's supremely repetitive. Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2004 by wsimmie
Finally someone sees something positive in our friendships. Watters has validated an important time in my life when I was focused on my friendships and not yet settling down in... Read morePublished on Dec 16 2003
You meet the damnedest people stuffing envelopes at the headquarters for the American Association of Single People, doling out licorice whips in the Black Rock Desert, and trolling... Read morePublished on Nov. 2 2003 by Alex Wellen
Ethan Watters has written a book about an interesting topic that has just recently begun to draw national attention: those of the current generation who are in their late twenties... Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2003 by Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty
Self indulgent self justification, anyone? This "analysis" of a "social trend" is focused on the thinnest demographic slice of our nation's population. Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2003
Must Read BV (Book Value): 'Friends' in-depth in 256 pages (instead of 30 minutes every Thursday)
Ok, so I have to admit it up front. Read more
The best part of the book are the personal anecdotes and life stories integrated into the broader theme of the book. Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003