Working Women and the Transformation of American Life
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 We are making it up as we go along, says the author of this book, and the chief storytellers are the women whose lives and futures have been so dramatically altered not only by feminist politics, but by the introduction of the credit card. Helgesen (The Web of Inclusion, 1995) begins this book with a series of quotes given her by the hundreds of people she interviewed for this exploration of women out front in the metamorphosis not just of American life, but of global society. ``Life today is like Starbucks,'' one says, summarizing the made- to-order life that Helgesen finds in today's society. ``You don't just order a coffee, you specify precisely what kind you want. A tall double decaf skinny latte--that seems like the perfect metaphor for our times.'' Helgesen has chosen the city of Naperville, Ill., to contrast with William Whyte's classic The Organization Man community of Park Forest, Ill. Whyte in the 1950s worried correctly that the corporation defined society, typified in Park Forest by sameness, from family configuration and commuting patterns to cars, houses, and leisurely Sunday barbecues. Life in Naperville in the 1990s is ill-defined, with a scramble of working wives, downsized husbands, single mothers, and other household configurations. Choices include not only careers and lifestyles, but schools and after-school activities for the children, and indeed, whether to have children at all. Time is the enemy, and loss of faith in institutions forces consumers to become expert not only in buying appliances and stereo systems, but in choosing medical care and managing finances. Spiritual life, like everything else in Naperville, is fluid, with a diversity (from a mosque to an Assembly of God amphitheater) unheard of in Park Forest. A fast-paced overview of the vast changes technology has brought--and is bringing--to ordinary lives, although unconvincing that women are the ``driving force'' in this transformation. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-48025-3
Page count: 271pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1997


NonfictionHOW WOMEN RISE by Sally Helgesen
by Sally Helgesen
NonfictionTHE WEB OF INCLUSION by Sally Helgesen
by Sally Helgesen