Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 3.12.49 PM

girl student eating lunch

Welcome to Module 7: Work and Families (Oct 24-30). During this section, we will read Chapter 11: Work and Families, p. 378-413, and take exam 2 before November 6th at midnight. As always, you are encouraged to take the exam well before this date to avoid technical glitches.

The chapter opens with several examples of how children from different socio-economic backgrounds have different relationships to food security and nutrition. It reminds me of the NYTimes article:  What Kids Eat for Lunch Around the World, which uses the sample of lunch content to demonstrate diversity of experience of a particular age-cohort globally. How does your morning breakfast reflect your social location in the globe, thinking of such factors as race, ethnicity, citizenship, social class and geographic location? How many institutional factors are behind the content of our breakfast?

Why does the author separate work into the categories of market, care work and house work, and what are the social and structural implications of each one, especially in relationship to the government and economy? The Gross Domestic Product definition:

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest quantitative measure of a nation’s total economic activity. More specifically, GDP represents the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nation’s geographic borders over a specified period of time.

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 3.33.52 PM

Book cover of “The Second Shift” by Arlie Hochschild and Anne Machung

This means, that if a woman does housework and care work in her home, her labor will not register on the GDP. But if she walked across the street and did the same type of labor for her neighbor for pay, then this same work would be recognized in the GDP. This provides a sample for the idea of price range of women’s household labor, for arguments such as if and how much women should be paid for their domestic labor. Therefore, we can see that the GDP only narrowly defines and captures labor data. This is why the idea of the “second shift” was coined, in which women come home after a day in the marketplace as an employee, just to come home and put in more labor, but this time, unpaid. On page 383, there is a chart demonstrating the change in women’s participation in the paid workforce, what have these changes looked like for the three different groups examined? The chapter talks about the increase of women working while they are pregnant and who are back to work within 12 months of giving birth. What is the legal requirement for women’s paid time off during pregnancy and how does this compare to women in Canada or Europe? How does this provide more insight behind the numbers? The United States is a complete outlier when it comes to women’s paid time off after having children, one of the few nations in the world that does not provide paid leave. What accounts for this? And how much paid leave do our European counterparts receive? What accounts for that? The chapter spends a good amount of time focusing on ways to measure, understand, and justify the gender imbalance in the household. What is this argument? How does this relate to what you witnessed between your own parents? And their parents? How does the author, Philip Cohen, suggest these problems can be rectified institutionally? How does being single factor in compared to working married heterosexual couples? Why do women more often give up their job, over their male partners? How do same sex couples different in these divisions of market and household labor? How do different racial groups?


The U.S. continues to have high rates of occupational segregation between genders, races, and socio-economic levels, with a very low rate of upward mobility, contrary to the stereotype of the “American dream.” The U.S. is now more rigidly defined by social class than England.

Childcare costs have exploded. How does this impact the American family? In some places, childcare now costs as much as college tuition. How does this aggravate the class inequality?

You can write an optional comments in the section below about these gender and class divisions in the workplace and with income levels. How can the government provide institutional support to shift certain dynamics? How are other countries doing a different jobs than we are? What accounts for these differences, between similarly economically situated countries?