It's about Time: Couples and Careers

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How do two-career couples manage in a one-career world?It's about Time examines this mismatch between outdated scripts and the experiences of dual-earner couples. It broadens our understanding of occupational and family career strategies couples use in light of the widening gap between their real lives and the outdated work-hour and career-path roles, rules, and regulations they confront. It's about Time draws on the data from the Cornell Couples and Careers Study to demonstrate that:*Regardless of income, time is a scarce commodity in dual-earner households. With two jobs, two commutes, often long work hours, high job demands, business travel, several cars, children, ailing relatives, and/or pets - time is always an issue.*Time is built into jobs and career paths in ways that make continuous full-time (40 or typically more hours a week) paid work a fact of life in American society. *The multiple strands of life—career, family and personal—unfold over time. Spouses move through their life courses in tandem, with early choices - to have children or not, to work long hours or not, to switch jobs or not, to relocate for his or her career or not—all having long-term consequences for life quality and for gender inequality.The evidence from this book suggests that it is about time for the United States to confront the realities and needs of contemporary working couples and indeed, all members of the new workforce. To do so requires more than Band-Aid, short-term (and often short-sighted) policy remedies. It's about Time argues that it is essential to re-imagine and reconfigure work hours, workweeks, and occupational career paths in ways that address the widening gaps between the time needs and goals of workers and their families, at all ages and stages of the life course.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This impressive and well-edited volume presents findings and implications of a major study on work-family interface by the Cornell University Careers Institute. The study, which was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, focuses on middle-class, dual earner households and how they manage their two work lives and their combined family life. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended."—Choice, September 2003

"Chapters cover such topics as work-hour strategies . . . , competing clocks, timing parenthood, journey to work, managing households, turning points in work careers, factors that predict success, prioritizing careers, the new technology climate and the rise of telecommuting, alternative employment arrangements, moving toward retirement . . . , the case of same-sex couples, work-life integration, and family-friendly policies."—Future Policy 25:10, October 2003

"This volume presents findings from the Cornell Couples and Careers Study, a study of dual career, middle class couples in upstate New York, directed by Phyllis Moen. The book stands out in the work-family research field for several reasons. These include the comprehensive look at couples' linked work and family careers and the inclusions of understudied topics such as same-sex couples, spouses' relocation decisions, and religious participation. The book contributes to the areas of careers, labor markets, organizations, gender, family, the life course, and work-family policy."—Mary Blair-Loy, Contemporary Sociology 33:3

"Moen and other authors in the volume assert that families have changed extensively while work settings have changed little, resulting in a 'cultural lag' or 'mismatch' between what working families need to meet their care-giving responsibilities and what work organizations demand of workers. . . . A strength of the volume is its comprehensive set of topics. The chapters cover not only standard topics in the field, such as work hours, work preferences, and parenting, but also commuting, technology, and the 'spillover' of work to family life and vice versa, topics much less often included in work and family volumes."—Suzanne M. Bianchi, Industrial and Labor Relations Review 57:4, July 2004

"This timely, multidisciplinary book uses data from an innovative project on working couples' careers to address various dimensions of a major contemporary challenge: alleviating the mismatch between working families' needs and the institutions of work and family"—Arne L. Kalleberg, Kenan Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"It's About Time tells a story about the multiple ways we all struggle to organize our lives, the inequities and challenges we face over our life course, the gendered interdependency between partners as they make critical decisions, and the need for policies to reflect these new realities. This collection sets the agenda for a fresh examination of work/family research."—Rosanna Hertz, author of Working Familes and More Equal than Others, Luella LaMer Professor, Wellesley College, Departments of Sociology and Women's Studies, Chair of Women's Studies

"I am a great admirer of Phyllis Moen's life-course perspective and the work of the Cornell Center. This book confirms that the Couples Study has produced important new insights."—Lotte Bailyn, T. Wilson Professor in Management, Sloan School of Management, MIT

"It's about time someone wrote this book! It provides a glimpse we have never before had into how real couples function on a daily basis."—Madonna Harrington Meyer, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801488375
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Time Strategies
2 Time Clocks: Work-Hour Strategies 17
3 Competing Clocks: Work and Leisure 35
4 Family Clocks: Timing Parenthood 49
5 Commuting Clocks: Journey to Work 60
6 Career Clocks: Forked Roads 80
Pt. 2 Strains, Successes, and Subjective Assessments
7 Spillover 101
8 Well-Being 122
9 Success 133
10 Managing Households 153
11 Turning Points in Work Careers 168
12 Prioritizing Careers 183
Pt. 3 Community, Organizational, and Policy Contexts
13 Sunday Morning Rush Hour 203
14 The New Technology Climate 220
15 Alternative Employment Arrangements 242
16 Moving toward Retirement 259
17 The Case of Same-Sex Couples 275
18 Institutionalizing Family-Friendly Policies 288
19 Work-Life Integration: Challenges and Organizational Responses 310
Epilogue: Toward a Policy Agenda 333
App Methodological Notes on The Cornell Couples and Careers Study 339
Notes 365
References 389
Contributors 417
Index 423
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