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Don Edgar

Peak: Reinventing middle age by Patricia Edgar and Don Edgar

April 2017, no. 390

We are often told that baby boomers reshaped every stage of life they passed through. They are the most liberal-minded, creative, self-assured – and most of all, lucky – generation in history. Pop music, the sexual revolution, environmentalism, the internet – there is little, it seems, they have not been responsible for in the modern world. As they approach th ...

Debates about the balance between life and work are currently running hot in the media, government and the publishing world. Don Edgar, foundation director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, delivers a passionately argued and engagingly written analysis of the various issues currently affecting work culture and the family. He focuses on women juggling motherhood and work, the masculine workplace culture that considers family issues none of its concern, future directions for children’s learning and development, the challenges posed by our ageing population and the continuing erosion of traditional full-time work.

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Don Edgar has brought his wealth of experience in monitoring Australian society and its institutions to reflect on the changes now taking place and what needs to be done about them. The Patchwork Nation summarises the key aspects of social change, identifies the challenges associated with them (specifically for government) and sets out a coherent strategy for reform built around a strengthened role for local communities in responding to the forces of global economic change. This involves covering a huge amount of material. In this regard, the book succeeds in bringing together a number of disparate trends, ideas and themes, and makes them accessible to a wide audience. The book also contains a good deal of insight into the changes taking place. Yet there are questions to be asked about the extent to which some aspects of Edgar’s analysis are as compelling as the solutions he proposes. While many of the proposals developed in Section 3 are attractive, they do not always link with the forces for change described in Sections 1 and 2, and they are not always convincing.

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