Family, work and the emerging regional city are mapped through 1865 interviews with families of all social classes who live...

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THE SYMMETRICAL FAMILY: A Study of Work and Leisure in the London Region

Family, work and the emerging regional city are mapped through 1865 interviews with families of all social classes who live in greater London -- and the conclusion is that the family is still a functional social unit. The authors also discover that the work week has not substantially dropped since 1939, and that equality of the sexes means that 42 percent of women work today as compared to 10 percent in 1910 -- hence the ""symmetrical family."" Unskilled workers feel most bored, hopeless and powerless about their jobs, belong to the fewest dubs and associations, and find that work-induced fatigue hurts family life -- especially when the wife works. Young and Willmott foresee significant white-collarization of the work force, but how this would solve the problems of inflation and long hours remains unclear. ""Leisure? No, I don't have any of that,"" says a startled working-class husband. Another responds, ""We don't go to the cinema very often. All they have nowadays is sex and Walt Disney and I can get both of those at home."" A steady rattle of empirical tables reflect the banality and predictability of working-class and middle-class life. The authors hold out two alternative futures -- Marx's fully-rounded existence after socialist technology has abolished labor, and the Zero Growth prescription for population and industrial cutbacks -- but they develop the implications of neither one, and Britain's current lack of a revolutionary movement plus its now declining birth rate would tend to challenge the assumptions. Nevertheless, the picture is grim today and certain to be grim tomorrow.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973