This week in class, we will be discussing the economic context for American families and its impact. How do families negotiate work and family life? What is the impact of the second shift on families? We will be reading chapter 9: Work and Family Life on Tuesday, and Chapter 10: Family and the Economy on Thursday. In addition, we will watch the documentary Inequality for All.

The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home, Arlie Hochschild, with Anne Machung

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In this article, the Holts family is followed by the authors and their story represents the ways in which men and women negotiate their division of household labor, or do not. Nancy felt she was doing 80% of the housework and 90 percent of the childcare. Evan felt he did 40 percent of the housework and 30 percent of the childcare. How did Nancy and Evan negotiate this workload among themselves?

In order to understand this issue more, we will have two groups focus on this article: Groups 1 and 2.

Group 1: Demonstrate visually (through performing, drawing on the white board, or through images) this issue of how men and women view the division of household labor. Present this to the class.

Group 2: Find statistics on the division of household labor. Some international comparisons with Europe or other countries. GLBT families and household labor statistics. A few discussion questions.

pamelaThe Rhetoric and Reality of “Opting Out,” Pamela Stone

Stone interviewed 54 women in a variety of high powered professions, and studied their stories and opportunities for work-family balance. In the end, these women chose to quit their jobs and stay at home, because of unyielding husbands who were basically absent at home because of their high demand jobs, and an inflexible workplace that did not provide flexible options.

Group 3: Draw on the white board, or enact, or demonstrate visually, the main topics of this chapter. Be sure to cover the following ideas: opting-out, choice gap, concerted cultivation, elder-care, absentee fathers/husbands, ideal worker.

Group 4: find statistics on the main topics included in the article: percentage of women who opt out, what careers they held, flexible workplaces, family policies, and cost of childcare. Discussion questions.

One Sick Child Away from Being Fired,” Joan C. Williams 

This article is based on ninety-nine cases of union arbitrations caused by workers being fired because they left work to take care of a sick child, or to fulfill their childcare duties. Most workers, however, are not unionized (87%), and therefore have less protection than these workers. Blue and pink collar workers have rigid schedules and can be dismissed for leaving or arriving late. Many parents do what the author calls, “tag teams” to take care of child care, when the couple works at different times so that one of them can be home to take care of the kids. When this fragile network fails, it causes problems at work, including termination. Many rely on family members for child care, as the costs for a one year old child in day care can cost as much as the local state college tuition.

Group 5: Represent the chapter visually, through a drawing, enactment or another method.

Group 6: Provide some statistics that the article does and does not cover. Discussion questions.

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