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The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution in the Home (1988)

by Arlie Hochschild

Other authors: Anne Machung

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527346,724 (4.14)3
"More than twenty years ago, sociologist and University of California, Berkeley, professor Arlie Hochschild set off a tidal wave of conversation and controversy with his bestselling book, The Second Shift In it, she examined what really happens in dual-career households. Adding together time in paid work, child care, and housework, she found that working mothers put in a month of work a year more than their spouses. Updated for a workforce now half female, this edition cites a range of new studies and statistics and includes a new afterword in which Hochschild assesses how much-and how little-has changed for women today."--Pub. desc.… (more)
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I would like to say this book is somewhat dated, but unfortunately, studies show it is not. Things have changed only a little. The interviews with the families are interesting and the time she spends with them that often puts the lie to what they say, in that the men do even less work on the second shift than what they report. The worst thing is that so many of the women seem to think that there is something wrong with them if they don't do the entire "having it all" bit...and of course, doing it all. The research seems a little less than rigorous, but as an anecdotal and sociological study, it does contain some interesting things, and the author writes in a lucid and interesting style. ( )
  Devil_llama | Sep 25, 2019 |
An excellent read. Hochschild writes about the second shift, which is the housework and child rearing that typically falls on the shoulder of working mothers after they get home from their "first shift" job.
Hochschild makes the argument that typically women face a stalled revolution, although their opportunities and rights outside of the house has changed rapidly, norms about sharing housework and child raising have not updated from the industrial revolution.

The study has its issues, mainly the data is old and there's a certain arrogance to Hochschild's assertions about the couples she studies. However, the main value of the book is the excellent ethnography which reflects a sense of uniqueness and complexity to each couple. How couples share the second shift (or more often don't share the second shift) is a reflection of complex factors that are not limited to just each partner's beliefs on how sharing should be. Interestingly, couples that are more traditional in outlook are actually capable of sharing the second shift more than couples that have egalitarian beliefs in theory. Hochschild shows that the actual distribution of the second shift is determined by the personality of each partner, in addition to cultural understandings of womanhood/manhood, economic realities amongst other constraints. There's certain noticeable patterns in the couple dynamic, such as cautionary tales from childhood, family myths and gender strategies (complex interactions of gender ideology, and emotional burdens). Hochschild also discusses at length the economy of gratitude and the types of comparisons that couples make in order to feel "lucky" about their partner.

Ultimately, the book has no simple answers for a complex problem. The book is rich with complexities and nuance, there's little to no moral posturing or outright blame. I appreciate the book, which I resonated with more than I expected. If anything, the book has opened up certain inequalities that I had not been cognizant of. For example, that even when the second shift is split, the male figure tends to do more discretionary activities, such as repair and child tending, compared to the more rigid tasks of cooking and cleaning. A must read for anyone who's interested in the modern realities of the family. ( )
  vhl219 | Jun 1, 2019 |
Everybody should read this. ( )
  HeatherWhitney | Apr 25, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arlie Hochschildprimary authorall editionscalculated
Machung, Annesecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"More than twenty years ago, sociologist and University of California, Berkeley, professor Arlie Hochschild set off a tidal wave of conversation and controversy with his bestselling book, The Second Shift In it, she examined what really happens in dual-career households. Adding together time in paid work, child care, and housework, she found that working mothers put in a month of work a year more than their spouses. Updated for a workforce now half female, this edition cites a range of new studies and statistics and includes a new afterword in which Hochschild assesses how much-and how little-has changed for women today."--Pub. desc.

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