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Shifting Boundaries of Work and Social Life
Though there are still just twenty-four hours in a day, society’s idea of who should be doing what and when has shifted. Time, the ultimate scarce resource, has become an increasingly contested battle zone in American life, with work, family, and personal obligations pulling individuals in conflicting directions. In Fighting for Time, editors Cynthia Fuchs Epstein and Arne Kalleberg bring together a team of distinguished sociologists and management analysts to examine the social construction of time and its importance in American culture. Fighting for Time opens with an exploration of changes in time spent at work—both when people are on the job and the number of hours they spend there—and the consequences of those changes for individuals and families. Contributors Jerry Jacobs and Kathleen Gerson find that the relative constancy of the average workweek in America over the last thirty years hides the fact that blue-collar workers are putting in fewer hours while more educated white-collar workers are putting in more. Rudy Fenwick and Mark Tausig look at the effect of nonstandard schedules on workers’ health and family life. They find that working unconventional hours can increase family stress, but that control over one’s work schedule improves family, social, and health outcomes for workers. The book then turns to an examination of how time influences the organization and control of work. The British insurance company studied by David Collinson and Margaret Collinson is an example of a culture where employees are judged on the number of hours they work rather than on their productivity. There, managers are under intense pressure not to take legally guaranteed parental leave, and clocks are banned from the office walls so that employees will work without regard to the time. In the book’s final section, the contributors examine how time can have different meanings for men and women. Cynthia Fuchs Epstein points out that professional women and stay-at-home fathers face social disapproval for spending too much time on activities that do not conform to socially prescribed gender roles—men are mocked by coworkers for taking paternity leave, while working mothers are chastised for leaving their children to the care of others. Fighting for Time challenges assumptions about the relationship between time and work, revealing that time is a fluid concept that derives its importance from cultural attitudes, social psychological processes, and the exercise of power. Its insight will be of interest to sociologists, economists, social psychologists, business leaders, and anyone interested in the work-life balance.
Access to capital and financial services is crucial for healthy communities. However, many impoverished individuals and neighborhoods are routinely ignored by mainstream financial institutions. This neglect led to the creation of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), which provide low-income communities with financial services and act as a conduit to conventional financial organizations and capital markets. Edited by Julia Sass Rubin, Financing Low-Income Communities brings together leading experts in the field to assess what we know about the challenges of bringing financial services and capital to poor communities, map out future lines of research, and propose policy reforms to make these efforts more effective. The contributors to Financing Low-Income Communities distill research on key topics related to community development finance. Daniel Schneider and Peter Tufano examine the obstacles that make saving and asset accumulation difficult for low-income households—such as the fact that tens of millions of low-income and minority adults don’t have a bank account—and consider solutions, like making it easier for low-wage workers to enroll in 401(K) plans. Jeanne Hogarth, Jane Kolodinksy, and Marianne Hilgert review evidence showing that community-based financial education programs can be effective in changing families’ saving and budgeting patterns. Lisa Servon proposes strategies for addressing the challenges facing the microenterprise field in the United States. Julia Sass Rubin discusses ways community loan and venture capital funds have adapted in response to the decreased availability of funding, and considers potential sources of new capital, such as state governments and public pension funds. Marva Williams explores the evolution and recent performance of community development banks and credit unions. Kathleen Engel and Patricia McCoy document the proliferation of predatory lenders, who market loans at onerous interest rates to financially vulnerable families and the devastating effects of such lending on communities—from increased crime to falling home values and lower tax revenues. Rachel Bratt reviews the policies and programs used to make rental and owned housing financially accessible. Rob Hollister proposes a framework for evaluating the contributions of community development financial institutions. Despite the many accomplishments of CDFIs over the last four decades, changing political and economic conditions make it imperative that they adapt in order to survive. Financing Low-Income Communities charts out new directions for public and private organizations which aim to end the financial exclusion of marginalized neighborhoods.
Care Provision in the United States
As women moved into the formal labor force in large numbers over the last forty years, care work—traditionally provided primarily by women—has increasingly shifted from the family arena to the market. Child care, elder care, care for the disabled, and home care now account for a growing segment of low-wage work in the United States. But the expanding market provision of care has created new economic anxieties and raised pointed questions: Why do women continue to do most care work, both paid and unpaid? Why does care work remain low paid when the quality of care is so highly valued? In For Love and Money, an interdisciplinary team of experts explores the theoretical dilemmas of care provision and provides an unprecedented empirical overview of the looming problems for the care sector in the United States. Drawing on diverse disciplines and areas of expertise, For Love and Money develops an innovative framework to analyze existing care policies and suggest potential directions for care policy and future research. Contributors Paula England, Nancy Folbre, and Carrie Leana explore the range of motivations for caregiving, such as familial responsibility or limited job prospects, and why both love and money can be efficient motivators. They also examine why women tend to specialize in the provision of care, citing factors like job discrimination, social pressure, or the personal motivation to provide care reported by many women. Suzanne Bianchi, Nancy Folbre, and Douglas Wolf estimate how much unpaid care is being provided in the United States and show that low-income families rely more on unpaid family members for their child and for elder care than do affluent families. With low wages and little savings, these families often find it difficult to provide care and earn enough money to stay afloat. Candace Howes, Carrie Leana and Kristin Smith investigate the dynamics within the paid care sector and find problematic wages and working conditions, including high turnover, inadequate training and a “pay penalty” for workers who enter care jobs. These conditions have consequences: poor job quality in child care and adult care also leads to poor care quality. In their chapters, Janet Gornick, Candace Howes and Laura Braslow provide a systematic inventory of public policies that directly shape the provision of care for children or for adults who need personal assistance, such as family leave, child care tax credits and Medicaid-funded long-term care. They conclude that income and variations in states’ policies are the greatest factors determining how well, and for whom, the current system works. Despite the demand for care work, very little public policy attention has been devoted to it. Only three states, for example, have enacted paid family leave programs. Paid or unpaid, care costs those who provide it. At the heart of For Love and Money is the understanding that the quality of care work in the United States matters not only for those who receive care but also for society at large, which benefits from the nurturance and maintenance of human capabilities. This volume clarifies the pressing need for America to fundamentally rethink its care policies and increase public investment in this increasingly crucial sector.
Check-Cashing Outlets, Pawnshops, and the Poor
In today's world of electronic cash transfers, automated teller machines, and credit cards, the image of the musty, junk-laden pawnshop seems a relic of the past. But it is not. The 1980s witnessed a tremendous boom in pawnbroking. There are now more pawnshops than ever before in U.S. history, and they are found not only in large cities but in towns and suburbs throughout the nation. As John Caskey demonstrates in Fringe Banking, the increased public patronage of both pawnshops and commercial check-cashing outlets signals the growing number of American households now living on a cash-only basis, with no connection to any mainstream credit facilities or banking services. Fringe Banking is the first comprehensive study of pawnshops and check-cashing outlets, profiling their operations, customers, and recent growth from family-owned shops to such successful outlet chains as Cash American and ACE America's Cash Express. It explains why, despite interest rates and fees substantially higher than those of banks, their use has so dramatically increased. According to Caskey, declining family earnings, changing family structures, a growing immigrant population, and lack of household budgeting skills has greatly reduced the demand for bank deposit services among millions of Americans. In addition, banks responded to 1980s regulatory changes by increasing fees on deposit accounts with small balances and closing branches in many poor urban areas. These factors combined to leave many low- and moderate-income families without access to checking privileges, credit services, and bank loans. Pawnshops and check-cashing outlets provide such families with essential financial services thay cannot obtain elsewhere. Caskey notes that fringe banks, particularly check-cashing outlets, are also utilized by families who could participate in the formal banking system, but are willing to pay more for convenience and quick access to cash. Caskey argues that, contrary to their historical reputation as predators milking the poor and desperate, pawnshops and check-cashing outlets play a key financial role for disadvantaged groups. Citing the inconsistent and often unenforced state laws currently governing the industry, Fringe Banking challenges policy makers to design regulations that will allow fringe banks to remain profitable without exploiting the customers who depend on them.
The Voting Rights Act (VRA) stands among the great achievements of American democracy. Originally adopted in 1965, the Act extended full political citizenship to African-American voters in the United States nearly 100 years after the Fifteenth Amendment first gave them the vote. While Section 2 of the VRA is a nationwide, permanent ban on discriminatory election practices, Section 5, which is set to expire in 2007, targets only certain parts of the country, requiring that legislative bodies in these areas—mostly southern states with a history of discriminatory practices—get permission from the federal government before they can implement any change that affects voting. In The Future of the Voting Rights Act, David Epstein, Rodolfo de la Garza, Sharyn O’Halloran, and Richard Pildes bring together leading historians, political scientists, and legal scholars to assess the role Section 5 should play in America’s future. The contributors offer varied perspectives on the debate. Samuel Issacharoff questions whether Section 5 remains necessary, citing the now substantial presence of blacks in legislative positions and the increasingly partisan enforcement of the law by the Department of Justice (DOJ). While David Epstein and Sharyn O’Halloran are concerned about political misuse of Section 5, they argue that it can only improve minority voting power—even with a partisan DOJ—and therefore continues to serve a valuable purpose. Other contributors argue that the achievements of Section 5 with respect to blacks should not obscure shortcomings in the protection of other groups. Laughlin McDonald argues that widespread and systematic voting discrimination against Native Americans requires that Section 5 protections be expanded to more counties in the west. Rodolfo de la Garza and Louis DeSipio point out that the growth of the Latino population in previously homogenous areas and the continued under-representation of Latinos in government call for an expanded Section 5 that accounts for changing demographics. As its expiration date approaches, it is vital to examine the role that Section 5 still plays in maintaining a healthy democracy. Combining historical perspective, legal scholarship, and the insight of the social sciences, The Future of the Voting Rights Act is a crucial read for anyone interested in one of this year’s most important policy debates and in the future of civil rights in America.
In 2006, the United Nations reported on the “feminization” of migration, noting that the number of female migrants had doubled over the last five decades. Likewise, global awareness of issues like human trafficking and the exploitation of immigrant domestic workers has increased attention to the gender makeup of migrants. But are women really more likely to migrate today than they were in earlier times? In Gender and International Migration, sociologist and demographer Katharine Donato and historian Donna Gabaccia evaluate the historical evidence to show that women have been a significant part of migration flows for centuries. The first scholarly analysis of gender and migration over the centuries, Gender and International Migration demonstrates that variation in the gender composition of migration reflect not only the movements of women relative to men, but larger shifts in immigration policies and gender relations in the changing global economy.
While most research has focused on women migrants after 1960, Donato and Gabaccia begin their analysis with the fifteenth century, when European colonization and the transatlantic slave trade led to large-scale forced migration, including the transport of prisoners and indentured servants to the Americas and Australia from Africa and Europe. Contrary to the popular conception that most of these migrants were male, the authors show that a significant portion were women. The gender composition of migrants was driven by regional labor markets and local beliefs of the sending countries. For example, while coastal ports of western Africa traded mostly male slaves to Europeans, most slaves exiting east Africa for the Middle East were women due to this region’s demand for female reproductive labor.
Donato and Gabaccia show how the changing immigration policies of receiving countries affect the gender composition of global migration. Nineteenth-century immigration restrictions based on race, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act in the United States, limited male labor migration. But as these policies were replaced by regulated migration based on categories such as employment and marriage, the balance of men and women became more equal – both in large immigrant-receiving nations such as the United States, Canada, and Israel, and in nations with small immigrant populations such as South Africa, the Philippines, and Argentina. The gender composition of today’s migrants reflects a much stronger demand for female labor than in the past. The authors conclude that gender imbalance in migration is most likely to occur when coercive systems of labor recruitment exist, whether in the slave trade of the early modern era or in recent guest-worker programs.
Using methods and insights from history, gender studies, demography, and other social sciences, Gender and International Migration shows that feminization is better characterized as a gradual and ongoing shift toward gender balance in migrant populations worldwide. This groundbreaking demographic and historical analysis provides an important foundation for future migration research.
Women, Family, and Workplace Inequality in Twenty-One Countries
Gender inequality in the workplace persists, even in nations with some of the most progressive laws and generous family support policies. Yet the dimensions on which inequality is measured—levels of women’s employment, number of hours worked, sex segregation by occupations and wages—tell very different stories across industrialized nations. By examining federally guaranteed parental leave, publicly provided child care, and part-time work, and looking across multiple dimensions of inequality, Becky Pettit and Jennifer Hook document the links between specific policies and aggregate outcomes. They disentangle the complex factors, from institutional policies to personal choices, that influence economic inequality. Gendered Tradeoffs draws on data from twenty-one industrialized nations to compare women’s and men’s economic outcomes across nations, and over time, in search of a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of gender inequality in different labor markets. Pettit and Hook develop the idea that there are tradeoffs between different aspects of gender inequality in the economy and explain how those tradeoffs are shaped by individuals, markets, and states. They argue that each policy or condition should be considered along two axes—whether it promotes women’s inclusion in or exclusion from the labor market and whether it promotes gender equality or inequality among women in the labor market. Some policies advance one objective while undercutting the other. The volume begins by reflecting on gender inequality in labor markets measured by different indicators. It goes on to develop the idea that there may be tradeoffs inherent among different aspects of inequality and in different policy solutions. These ideas are explored in four empirical chapters on employment, work hours, occupational sex segregation, and the gender wage gap. The penultimate chapter examines whether a similar framework is relevant for understanding inequality among women in the United States and Germany. The book concludes with a thorough discussion of the policies and conditions that underpin gender inequality in the workplace. The central thesis of Gendered Tradeoffs is that gender inequality in the workplace is generated and reinforced by national policies and conditions. The contours of inequality across and within countries are shaped by specific aspects of social policy that either relieve or concentrate the demands of care giving within households—usually in the hands of women—and at the same time shape workplace expectations. Pettit and Hook make a strong case that equality for women in the workplace depends not on whether women are included in the labor market but on how they are included.
Mexican-Americans, Assimilation, and Race
When boxes of original files from a 1965 survey of Mexican Americans were discovered behind a dusty bookshelf at UCLA, sociologists Edward Telles and Vilma Ortiz recognized a unique opportunity to examine how the Mexican American experience has evolved over the past four decades. Telles and Ortiz located and re-interviewed most of the original respondents and many of their children. Then, they combined the findings of both studies to construct a thirty-five year analysis of Mexican American integration into American society. Generations of Exclusion is the result of this extraordinary project. Generations of Exclusion measures Mexican American integration across a wide number of dimensions: education, English and Spanish language use, socioeconomic status, intermarriage, residential segregation, ethnic identity, and political participation. The study contains some encouraging findings, but many more that are troubling. Linguistically, Mexican Americans assimilate into mainstream America quite well—by the second generation, nearly all Mexican Americans achieve English proficiency. In many domains, however, the Mexican American story doesn’t fit with traditional models of assimilation. The majority of fourth generation Mexican Americans continue to live in Hispanic neighborhoods, marry other Hispanics, and think of themselves as Mexican. And while Mexican Americans make financial strides from the first to the second generation, economic progress halts at the second generation, and poverty rates remain high for later generations. Similarly, educational attainment peaks among second generation children of immigrants, but declines for the third and fourth generations. Telles and Ortiz identify institutional barriers as a major source of Mexican American disadvantage. Chronic under-funding in school systems predominately serving Mexican Americans severely restrains progress. Persistent discrimination, punitive immigration policies, and reliance on cheap Mexican labor in the southwestern states all make integration more difficult. The authors call for providing Mexican American children with the educational opportunities that European immigrants in previous generations enjoyed. The Mexican American trajectory is distinct—but so is the extent to which this group has been excluded from the American mainstream. Most immigration literature today focuses either on the immediate impact of immigration or what is happening to the children of newcomers to this country. Generations of Exclusion shows what has happened to Mexican Americans over four decades. In opening this window onto the past and linking it to recent outcomes, Telles and Ortiz provide a troubling glimpse of what other new immigrant groups may experience in the future.
America confronts a jobs crisis that has two faces. The first is obvious when we read the newspapers or talk with our friends and neighbors: there are simply not enough jobs to go around. The second jobs crisis is more subtle but no less serious: far too many jobs fall below the standard that most Americans would consider decent work. A quarter of working adults are trapped in jobs that do not provide living wages, health insurance, or much hope of upward mobility. The problem spans all races and ethnic groups and includes both native-born Americans and immigrants. But Good Jobs America provides examples from industries ranging from food services and retail to manufacturing and hospitals to demonstrate that bad jobs can be made into good ones. Paul Osterman and Beth Shulman make a rigorous argument that by enacting policies to help employers improve job quality we can create better jobs, and futures, for all workers. Good Jobs America dispels several myths about low-wage work and job quality. The book demonstrates that mobility out of the low-wage market is a chimera—far too many adults remain trapped in poor-quality jobs. Osterman and Shulman show that while education and training are important, policies aimed at improving earnings equality are essential to lifting workers out of poverty. The book also demolishes the myth that such policies would slow economic growth. The experiences of countries such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands, show that it is possible to mandate higher job standards while remaining competitive in international markets. Good Jobs America shows that both government and the firms that hire low-wage workers have important roles to play in improving the quality of low-wage jobs. Enforcement agencies might bolster the effectiveness of existing regulations by exerting pressure on parent companies, enabling effects to trickle down to the subsidiaries and sub-contractors where low-wage jobs are located. States like New York have already demonstrated that involving community and advocacy groups—such as immigrant rights organizations, social services agencies, and unions—in the enforcement process helps decrease workplace violations. And since better jobs reduce turnover and improve performance, career ladder programs within firms help create positions employees can aspire to. But in order for ladder programs to work, firms must also provide higher rungs—the career advancement opportunities workers need to get ahead. Low-wage employment occupies a significant share of the American labor market, but most of these jobs offer little and lead nowhere. Good Jobs America reappraises what we know about job quality and low-wage employment and makes a powerful argument for our obligation to help the most vulnerable workers. A core principle of U.S. society is that good jobs be made accessible to all. This book proposes that such a goal is possible if we are committed to realizing it.
The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States, 1970s-2000s
Good Jobs, Bad Jobs provides an insightful analysis of how and why precarious employment is gaining ground in the labor market and the role these developments have played in the decline of the middle class. Kalleberg shows that by the 1970s, government deregulation, global competition, and the rise of the service sector gained traction, while institutional protections for workers—such as unions and minimum-wage legislation—weakened. Together, these forces marked the end of postwar security for American workers. The composition of the labor force also changed significantly; the number of dual-earner families increased, as did the share of the workforce comprised of women, non-white, and immigrant workers. Of these groups, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants remain concentrated in the most precarious and low-quality jobs, with educational attainment being the leading indicator of who will earn the highest wages and experience the most job security and highest levels of autonomy and control over their jobs and schedules. Kalleberg demonstrates, however, that building a better safety net—increasing government responsibility for worker health care and retirement, as well as strengthening unions—can go a long way toward redressing the effects of today’s volatile labor market. There is every reason to expect that the growth of precarious jobs—which already make up a significant share of the American job market—will continue. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs deftly shows that the decline in U.S. job quality is not the result of fluctuations in the business cycle, but rather the result of economic restructuring and the disappearance of institutional protections for workers. Only government, employers and labor working together on long-term strategies—including an expanded safety net, strengthened legal protections, and better training opportunities—can help reverse this trend.