Second Shift

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When The Second Shift was first published in 1989, it was hailed as "a scream in the dark" and "a brilliant, urgently needed analysis ... of the working woman who has it all". Now, in the twenty-first century, The Second Shift remains as important and relevant as when it was first published. As the majority of women entered the workforce, sociologist and Berkeley professor Arlic Hochschild was one of the first to talk about what really happened in dual-career households. Many people were amazed to find that women...
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When The Second Shift was first published in 1989, it was hailed as "a scream in the dark" and "a brilliant, urgently needed analysis ... of the working woman who has it all". Now, in the twenty-first century, The Second Shift remains as important and relevant as when it was first published. As the majority of women entered the workforce, sociologist and Berkeley professor Arlic Hochschild was one of the first to talk about what really happened in dual-career households. Many people were amazed to find that women were still responsible for the majority of child care and housework even though they also worked outside the home. Now, in this updated edition with a new introduction by the author, we discover how much things have, and have not, changed for women today.

The Second Shift takes a good hard look at two-career marriages and at who's doing the work around the house. In high readable fashion, Hochschild gives a realistic view of how couples try to preserve the myth of equality, while the burdens of childcare, cleaning and cooking overwhelmingly fall on the women. First time in paperback. 8-city author tour.

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Editorial Reviews

Betty Friedman
A brillian, urgently needed analysis of the new problems hidden behind the breezy image of the working woman who 'has it all.'
New York Times Book Review
The best discussion I have read on what must be the quintessential domestic bind of our time.
No book analyzes the human impact of the work-family track for both sexes more perceptively or thoroughly than this important, provacative study of the dynamics of two-career couples.
Brings the dilemma of the working mother to life as never before.
A fascinating read that makes us think twice about how much the Women's Movement still has to accomplish.
Seattle Post Intelligencer
The Second Shift is like a scream in the dark. It aches with truths. It cries out for change.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380711574
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/1/1990
  • Pages: 325
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Arlie Russell Hochschild is the author of The Time Bind and most recently Global Woman, which she edited with Barbara Ehrenreich. She is a tenured professor at University of California, Berkeley.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Speed-up in the Family

She is not the same woman in each magazine advertisement, but she is the same idea. She has that working-mother look as she strides forward, briefcase in one hand, smiling child in the other. Literally and figuratively, she is moving ahead. Her hair, if long, tosses behind her; if it is short, it sweeps back at the sides, suggesting mobility and progress. There is nothing shy or passive about her. She is confident, active, "liberated." She wears a dark tailored suit, but with a silk bow or colorful frill that says,"I'm really feminine underneath." She has made it in a man's world without sacrificing her femininity. And she has done this on her own. By some personal miracle, this image suggests, she has managed to combine what 150 years of industrialization have split wide apart--child and job, frill and suit, female culture and male.

When I showed a photograph of a supermom like this to the working mothers I talked to in the course of researching this book, many responded with an outright laugh. One daycare worker and mother of two, ages three and five, threw back her head: "Ha! They've got to be kidding about her. Look at me, hair a mess, nails jagged, twenty pounds overweight. Mornings, I'm getting my kids dressed, the dog fed, the lunches made, the shopping list done. That lady's got a maid." Even working mothers who did have maids couldn't imagine combining work and family in such a carefree way."Do you know what a baby does to your life, the two o'clock feedings, the four o'clock feedings?" Another mother of two said: "They don't show it, but she's whistling"--sheimitated a whistling woman, eyes to the sky--"so she can't hear the din." They envied the apparent ease of the woman with the flying hair, but she didn't remind them of anyone they knew.

The women I interviewed-lawyers, corporate executives, word processors, garment pattern cutters, daycare workers--and most of their husbands, too-felt differently about some issues: how right it is for a mother of young children to work a full-time job, or how much a husband should be responsible for the home. But they all agreed that it was hard to work two full-time jobs and raise young children.

How well do couples do it? The more women work outside the home, the more central this question. The number of women in paid work has risen steadily since before the turn of the century, but since 1950 the rise has been staggering. In 1950, 30 percent of American women were in the labor force; in 1986, it was 55 percent. In 1950, 28 percent of married women with children between six and seventeen worked outside the home; in 1986, it had risen to 68 percent. In 1950, 23 percent of married women with children under six worked. By 1986, it had grown to 54 percent. We don't know how many women with children under the age of one worked outside the home in 1950; it was so rare that the Bureau of Labor kept no statistics on it. Today half of such women do. Two-thirds of all mothers are now in the labor force; in fact, more mothers have paid jobs (or are actively looking for one) than nonmothers. Because of this change in women, two-job families now make up 58 percent of all married couples with children.'

Since an increasing number of working women have small children, we might expect an increase in part-time work. But actually, 67 percent of the mothers who work have full-time jobs-that is, thirty-five hours or more weekly. That proportion is what it was in 1959.

If more mothers of young children are stepping into full-time jobs outside the home, and if most couples can't afford household help, how much more are fathers doing at home? As I began ex-ploring this question I found many studies on the hours working men and women devote to housework and childcare. One national random sample of 1,243 working parents in forty-four American cities, conducted in 1965-66 by Alexander Szalai and his coworkers, for example, found that working women averaged three hours a day on housework while men averaged 17 minutes; women spent fifty minutes a day of time exclusively with their children; men spent twelve minutes. On the other side of the coin, working fathers watched television an hour longer than their working wives, and slept a half hour longer each night. A comparison of this American sample with eleven other industrial countries in Eastern and Western Europe revealed the same difference between working women and working men in those countries as well .z In a 1983 study of white middle-class families in greater Boston, Grace Baruch and R. C. Barnett found that working men married to working women spent only three-quarters of an hour longer.each week with their kindergarten-aged children than did men married to housewives.

Szalai's landmark study documented the now familiar but still alarming story of the working woman's "double day," but it left me wondering how men and women actually felt about all this. He and his coworkers studied how people used time, but not, say, how a father felt about his twelve minutes with his child, or how his wife felt about it. Szalai's study revealed the visible surface of what I discovered to be a set of deeply emotional issues: What should a man and woman contribute to the family? How appreciated does each feel? How does each respond to subtle changes in the balance of marital power? How does each develop an unconscious "gender strategy" for coping with the work at home, with marriage, and, indeed, with life itself These were the underlying issues.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 A Speed-up in the Family 1
Ch. 2 Marriage in the Stalled Revolution 11
Ch. 3 The Cultural Cover-up 23
Ch. 4 Joey's Problem: Nancy and Evan Holt 35
Ch. 5 The Family Myth of the Traditional: Frank and Carmen Delacorte 62
Ch. 6 A Notion of Manhood and Giving Thanks: Peter and Nina Tanagawa 79
Ch. 7 Having It All and Giving It Up: Ann and Robert Myerson 100
Ch. 8 A Scarcity of Gratitude: Seth and Jessica Stein 116
Ch. 9 An Unsteady Marriage and a Job She Loves Anita and Ray Judson 135
Ch. 10 The "His" and "Hers" of Sharing: Greg and Carol Alston 149
Ch. 11 No Time Together: Barbara and John Livingston 167
Ch. 12 Sharing Showdown and Natural Drift: Pathways to the New Man 181
Ch. 13 Beneath the Cover-up: Strategies and Strains 196
Ch. 14 Tensions in Marriage in an Age of Divorce 213
Ch. 15 Men Who Do and Men Who Don't 226
Ch. 16 The Working Wife As Urbanizing Peasant 250
Ch. 17 Stepping into Old Biographies or Making History Happen? 269
App.: Research on Who Does the Housework and Child Care 285
Notes 293
Selected Reading 303
Index 345
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2006

    Must Read for All

    You must read this book if you want to become smarter. It's a must!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2006

    Sociologically fascinating among the study of Sex Roles

    This book is a great analysis of the sex/gender roles in marriages. As women move further into the work world so that families can 'keep up' to make ends meet, while others are striving to afford the 'luxuries that have become necessities', this book looks at the 'second shift' of work. That is, the work that's done at home to keep the household running smoothly. This includes house cleaning, yardwork and other chores around the house. Do men and women equally share the work, is there true equality in this regard? It's a good book. I'm pleased to see there is an updated version of the book. I orginally read the 1989 version for an Anthropology class called 'Gender Roles in Society'. The only thing one would further want to examine, and hopefully is in this updated version of the book, is how do homosexual couples who are 'married' in name or in law, handle the second shift?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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