With this well-researched book, Cooper, a sociologist at Stanford University’s Clayman Institute, leads a grand return to a publicly committed sociology that is accessible, elucidating, and grounded in real stories. The book charts how individual American families at all income levels have dealt with the anxiety induced by the recent recession. Though each story is sensitively told and rich with personal details, the research focuses on the author’s core finding—the variation of “security strategies” among families. Though conventional wisdom dictates that wealthier families feel more secure, Cooper finds the opposite is true: they experience a mixture of status anxiety and the sense that everything they have isn’t enough. Parents fret about having enough money to send their children to elite schools, even if they have more than enough to pay for state universities. For the poorer and middle-tier families—contrary to popular stereotypes of the grasping, entitled modern American—many are figuring out how to survive with less, and even valorizing that. Cooper offers a robust analysis of gender dynamics, with sharp insights about the heavy burden on women to manage the family’s anxiety. Cooper’s necessary and timely study is a discomfiting reminder of the human cost of the recession. —Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW

With great insight, Marianne Cooper shows us how Americans are coping in an era of heightened economic anxiety—with the wealthier seeking ever greater financial security and the poorer trying to accommodate ever greater precariousness. Such upscaling and downscaling explains much of the emotional reality behind the menacing economic conditions in modern America.
Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
In this powerful book, Marianne Cooper weaves together carefully researched data about growing economic insecurity and gripping stories of families coping with these trends. Cooper has written an intimate look into what families are up against and the strategies they use to navigate the challenges they face. Cut Adrift provides a compelling examination of the pressing economic issues of our time.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook and Founder, LeanIn.org

"Too often the statistics about rising insecurity crowd out the real-life stories of families struggling to adjust to new realities. With this deeply researched examination of families living in the nation’s tech capital of Silicon Valley, Marianne Cooper reminds us why the statistics matter. She offers not only a wrenching journey into the lives of the insecure but a revealing framework for understanding the varied ways in which Americans are coping, or not, with increased financial risk and strain." —Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University, author of The Great Risk Shift and Winner-Take-All Politics

"Talking with moms at soccer matches, accompanying anxious shoppers at the mall, listening to news of a pink slip, Marianne Cooper takes an emotion-sensing stethoscope to the hearts of parents—from richest to poorest—in Silicon Valley, California. In an age of insecurity, Cooper finds that each family assigns a 'designated worrier' to manage anxiety about drawing to—or going over—the financial edge. This is a brilliant book and a must-read." —Arlie Hochschild, author of The Second Shift, The Outsourced Self, and So How’s the Family? and Other Essays

"Cut Adrift is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Cooper’s study of families from different social classes shows how worries about financial security penetrate the rhythm of daily life in all of the families (albeit in different ways). The book has impressive ethnographic detail, clarity of the analysis, and originality. My students loved it. Highly recommended!" —Annette Lareau, University of Pennsylvania, President, American Sociological Association

"A poignant, powerful story of how families are coping with rampant economic insecurity." —Allison Pugh, University of Virginia, author of Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture

"An important and insightful examination of family life during an economic downturn." —Vicki Smith, University of California, Davis, author of Crossing the Great Divide: Worker Risk and Opportunity in the New Economy