THE TIME BIND by Arlie Russell Hochschild


When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work
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 Along with predictable premises and conclusions, this case study raises unsettling questions about the impact of time on contemporary lives. Sociologist Hochschild (Univ. of Calif., Berkeley) observes a large corporation ostensibly committed to ``family-friendly'' policies and outlines a familiar story: The excessive demands of work create stresses at home because there is insufficient time to do everything. This is especially hard on women, who, as Hochschild documented in The Second Shift (1989), bear the brunt of housekeeping chores, and on children, whose emotional needs require time with parents. Except for some older men, the people Hochschild interviews are aware of and concerned about the implications of this time bind. What is surprising, consequently, is their failure to embrace reduced workloads, flex time, and other components of the company's effort to help employees balance the demands of work and home. While supporting the existence of these policies, few employees take advantage of them. Fears about job security and career advancement are present, of course, but many employees were uninterested in such options because they perceived work, not home, as the less stressful and more emotionally rich environment. With family lives careening on the brink of disaster and parents feeling perpetually out of control, the office or factory floor provides a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, and camaraderie. Unfortunately, after uncovering this surprising reversal of conventional expectations, Hochschild buries it by simply assuming it is a pathology. Escaping from the home by going to work reflects a dynamic with costs, but it also suggests a need to reconsider common conceptions of what constitutes a satisfying adult life. The disappointing failure to press forward with her observations does not prevent this from being a provocative book. (First printing of 50,000; first serial to the New York Times Magazine; author tour; TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1997
ISBN: 0-8050-4470-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1997


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