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Stability and transformation in gender, work, and family: insights from the second shift for the next quarter century

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Arlie Hochschild's The second shift: Working families and the revolution at home argued that the revolution toward gender equality in the USA has been stalled due to three factors: (1) women continue to do most of the ‘second shift’ – the unpaid work of childcare and housework; (2) insufficient flexibility in the workplace for accommodating family caregiving needs; and (3) a deficit of public sector benefits, such as paid parental leave. Since the book's publication in1989, many aspects of the gender structure (how gendered opportunities, barriers, and cultural meanings are socially structured in the USA) remain the same. Yet many aspects have changed. This article looks at areas of stability in the gender structure and areas of transformation in the past quarter century. We then plumb the book for the analytical insights it generates for scholars today. We discuss how deep-seated cultural understandings of gender infuse all levels of analysis: macro-level policies, family and work institutions, and personal experiences of gender, intimacy, and moral commitments. These insights help illuminate paths forward for new research on how new economic developments, including economic insecurity, flexibilization (the increasingly reliance on temporary and contract labor), and the widening social class divide, continue to affect intimacy at home.
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Keywords: Le Deuxième quart; Second Shift; culture; divorce; flexibility stigma; gender; gender inequality; l'empêchement travail-famille; l'inégalité des sexes; l'écart du temps libre; la conciliation travail-famille; la culture; le divorce; la dévotion au travail; le sexe; le stigmate de la flexibilité du travail; leisure gap; work devotion; work–family conflict

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA 2: Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA 3: Department of Sociology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22904, USA 4: Center for WorkLife Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, CA, 94102, USA 5: Institute for Women's Policy Research, Washington, DC, 20036, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2015

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