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Families at Work

Expanding the Bounds

Edited by Naomi Gerstel, Dan Clawson, and Robert Zussman

Publication Year: 2002

“Based heavily on ethnographic research, many of the chapters provide vivid portrayals of the lived experience of workers in . . . different contexts. On their own, many are exceptionally compelling narratives. As a whole, the collection is of a consistently high standard and relevance to the book’s objects, both of which are unusual in edited volumes of this kind. . . .For those jaded from having to read too many dense but dull reference books, the liveliness of the contributions in this collection will come as a welcome relief.” --Labour & Industry What is the relationship between work and family in a world where employment creates endless tensions for families and families create endless tensions for the workplace? This collection of reprinted and original articles broadens this discussion by addressing issues from the perspectives of often neglected populations: from white middle-class women with young children to people of color, to poor families, to the new sorts of families gays and lesbians are struggling to construct, to fathers, to older children. To discuss work and family is also to discuss gender. Ranging from California's Silicon Valley to a remote fishing village in the northeast, part one shows how new work arrangements have created new expectations for what it means to be a woman or a man, and how slow and uneven the pace of change can be. Nowhere are the tensions of work and family more potent than around childcare. Part two takes up these tensions, showing how various "solutions" to caring for children of all ages (whether infants or teenagers) create new problems. Parts three and four turn outward to show how the new relationships between families and work are changing the relationships between families and the communities in which they live and generating new social policy dilemmas.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Not so long ago, it all seemed very obvious. The dissolution of the household economy—of family farms, “mom and pop” stores, family businesses—separated much work from families. This separation was both spatial and normative. Home became what many came to see as homelike (“home sweet home”) because it appeared to specialize in love, between wife and husband, parent and child. Work became work precisely...

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Part One: Family Labor and the Construction of Gender

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pp. 1-3

To think about the relationship of work and family is to think about gender. Until recently, studying work within families seemed to mean studying women (just as studying paid employment seemed to mean studying men). The massive increase in women’s employment has changed all that. By the end of the twentieth century, 65% of all women, 70% of married women, and...

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1: Being the “Go-To Guy”: Fatherhood, Masculinity, and the Organization of Work in Silicon Valley

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pp. 5-31

Driving down a busy freeway into the heart of Silicon Valley, one sees billboards everywhere heralding the arrival of the new economy. Ads for e-mailing, high-speed Internet connections, and dot.com job openings permeate the skyline. Even a sign for Forbes magazine announces, “High octane capitalism ahead.” While it is undeniable that the new economy is here,...

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2: My Wife Can Tell Me Who I Know: Methodological and Conceptual Problems in Studying Fathers

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pp. 32-58

Social scientists repeatedly have stressed the importance of interviewing fathers in studies that examine family life. This is seen as particularly important in efforts to understand work-family conflicts, a topic that has gained more attention in recent decades (Hays, 1996; A. Hochschild, 1997; Hoffman & Youngblade, 1999). Yet many studies of families target only mothers...

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3: Constructing Gender and Occupational Segregation: A Study of Women and Work in Fishing Communities

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pp. 59-81

Women throughout the world play a vital role in the fishing industry (Nadel-Klein & Davis, 1988). They process and sell fish (Davis, 1986; Krabacher, 1988; Giasson, 1992). They manage fishing households and finances (Sinclair & Felt, 1991; Felt, Murphy, & Sinclair, 1995). They knit heads and repair nets (Thiessen, Davis, & Jentoft, 1992). They assist on boats, filling bait bags, cleaning fish, or cooking...

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4: Domesticity and the Political Economy of Lesbigay Families

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pp. 82-107

Although the families Carrington studied are not a random sample, he self-consciously sought a sample that would include a range in terms of both social class and race-ethnicity. Of the 108 participants in the research, 63 were predominantly Euro-American, 15 Latino/a American, 15 Asian American, 13 African American, and 2 Native American. The median household income in the San Francisco Bay area, where the study took place,...

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Part Two: Employment and the Care of Children

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pp. 109-111

What happens to children during the hours their parents work? In a few unusual circumstances, mothers work at home or take their children with them, but such circumstances are rare. In other unusual circumstances, fathers have become the primary caretakers for young children, but these circumstances are equally rare. By far the most common responses are either for children to be cared for by others (in a child care center,...

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5: Halving It All: The Mother and Mr. Mom

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pp. 113-138

Editorial note: For her book, Halving It All, Francine Deutsch interviewed dual-earner couples, who had children ranging in age from babies to teenagers. First looking for couples who equally shared parenting, she found them in day care centers, schools, and through word of mouth. Then she called all of these couples, asking them to estimate the overall division of child care in their families. Many said they were not equal sharers, but many—at least...

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6: I’m Here, but I’m There: The Meanings of Transnational Motherhood

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pp. 139-161

While mothering is generally understood as a practice that involves the preservation, nurturance, and training of children for adult life (Ruddick, 1989), there are many contemporary variants distinguished by race, class, and culture (Collins, 1994; Dill, 1988, 1994; Nakano Glenn, 1994). Latina immigrant women who work and reside in the United States while their children remain in their countries of origin constitute one variation in the organizational arrangements...

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7: Using Kin for Childcare: Embedment in the Socioeconomic Networks of Extended Families

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pp. 162-180

Child care arrangements are an essential element of parental employment. Patterns of usage of different types of child care arrangements have changed significantly in the past 30 years. Particularly noticeable is the diminishing use of relatives as the most common source of child care. Since 1958, the percentage of child care arrangements with relatives both inside and outside the child’s...

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8: Work-Family Issues of Mothers of Teenage Children

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pp. 181-197

The topic of care for children while mothers worked has been neglected for many years. Fortunately, a great deal of attention has been focused on the child care needs of mothers of infants and preschoolers in recent years (Hewlett, 1991). Although it has not received nearly as much attention as day care, the after-school care of children in “middle childhood” or late elementary...

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Part Three: Family, Community, and Social Context

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pp. 199-201

It is now widely recognized that the United States contains a remarkable diversity of family forms: single parent families, dual-career couples, three-generation households, lesbian and gay couples, reconstituted families, and childless couples as well as a rapidly dwindling number of “traditional” families made up of an employed husband, a housewife, and biological...

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9: Black Picket Fences: Growing Up in Groveland

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pp. 203-224

Editorial Note: Mary Pattillo-McCoy decided to study a middle-class black community because of her experiences growing up in a community much like “Groveland”—“Of my group of neighborhood and school friends, some had children young, were sporadically employed, or were lured into the drug trade, while others had gone to college, or worked steady jobs and earned enough to start a family. We started...

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10: Single Mothers and Social Support: The Commitment to, and Retreat from, Reciprocity

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pp. 225-250

For more than 25 years, Carol Stack’s All Our Kin (1974) has shaped ideas about how survival strategies of poor, single mothers are based on relationships of exchange. A central theme in that analysis is that the give-and-take in these relationships can be understood within the anthropological perspective of the gift: Giving carries with it the obligation to reciprocate, an obligation...

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11: The Third Shift: Gender and Care Work Outside the Home

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pp. 251-265

One of the important achievements of feminist scholarship over the past several decades has been to document the ways that women, with little recognition, contribute to the welfare of both their own families and a larger community. As a large body of research has shown, women, even employed women, do a disproportionate share of work in the home, including housework and child care (Brines...

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12: Producing Family Time: Practices of Leisure Activity Beyond the Home

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pp. 266-283

This article presents my analysis of an occasional, local, and apparently rather trivial activity—the “family outing” to the zoo—but I want to suggest that it can be read as part of a larger story, about the changing character of middle- and working-class family life. Part of this large story revolves around time—how much time parents can and do spend with families...

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Part Four: Policy, Politics, and Working Families

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pp. 285-287

Conflicts between work and family are not the inevitable result of economic or technological “progress.” Neither are they simply the consequence of the unconstrained choices of individual women and men, pulled in different directions by inherently contradictory goals. Rather, as the articles in this section show, the conflicts between work and family are driven, in...

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13: Challenges for Studying Care after AFDC

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pp. 289-301

The end of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) challenges us to learn what happens to care in single-mother families once paid work becomes mandatory. The importance of studying family processes may seem obvious, but there has been little concern about the nonpecuniary dimensions of family life in public discussion of welfare. The debate...

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14: Living with Violence: Women’s Reliance on Abusive Men in Their Transitions from Welfare to Work

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pp. 302-316

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), commonly referred to as “welfare reform,” poses special problems for women who are the victims of domestic violence. The ideological foundation of the new form of aid, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), is “work-first.” In addition to the goal of...

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15: Unions’ Responses to Family Concerns

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pp. 317-342

Job obligations often make it difficult to take care of families, and family responsibilities often interfere with jobs. At least four related forces shape this tension: the preferences and families of individual women and men and the powers and policies of three institutions—the state, employers, and labor unions. Individual preferences have been well researched as have many state...

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16: The Contradictory Effects of Work and Family on Political Activism

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pp. 343-356

While feminist scholarship in the past 25 years established the intrinsic connection between family and work, little attention has been paid to how work and family intersect with the political world. Other than the literature which focuses on the family as an institution of political socialization of children, few studies focus on how women’s and men’s commitment to work and/or family affects...


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pp. 357-359

E-ISBN-13: 9780826591524
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826513977
Print-ISBN-10: 0826513972

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2002