In a panoramic study that draws on diverse sources, Jerry A. Jacobs and Kathleen Gerson explain why and how time pressures have emerged and what we can do to alleviate them. In contrast to the conventional wisdom that all Americans are overworked, they show that time itself has become a form of social inequality that is dividing Americans in new ways—between the overworked and the underemployed, women and men, parents and non-parents. They piece together a compelling story of the increasing mismatch between our economic system and the needs of American families, sorting out important trends such as the rise of demanding jobs and the emergence of new pressures on dual earner families and single parents.
Comparing American workers with their European peers, Jacobs and Gerson also find that policies that are simultaneously family-friendly and gender equitable are not fully realized in any of the countries they examine. As a consequence, they argue that the United States needs to forge a new set of solutions that offer American workers new ways to integrate work and family life.
Jacobs and Gerson present the most fine-grained analysis yet offered of working time and its impacts on families. They successfully combine sophisticated analyses of quantitative data with breakthroughs in the conceptualization of work time. Their focus on household work time and their incorporation of subjective aspects of work–family conflict are welcome additions to the study of work time. As a result of their nuanced treatment, they avoid making simplistic generalizations that have marked many previous treatments of this topic.
This is an outstanding book. It offers powerful arguments in the debates over work–family conflict going on in academia and society. The data the authors bring to bear on the subject offer new insights that support their analysis and policy recommendations. Scholars of the workplace and of contemporary American society as well as public policy advocates must read this book!
The Time Divide makes a substantial contribution to the work–family literature and will be cited often by those with an interest in women's employment, children's well-being, family functioning, and work in America. Its appeal will be broad and capture the attention of policy makers along with academics in a number of disciplines including sociology, family studies, and public policy. The book is engagingly written and the logic of the analysis is sound.
The main thesis is original and important: that Americans are not, in general, overworked; rather, they can be divided into both the overworked and the underworked. The former are usually found in the upper half of the occupational distribution, the latter in the lower half. The overworked wish they could work less, and the underworked wish they could work more. Overall, The Time Divide significantly advances our understanding of just where the time divide lies. And that's an important contribution.
[A] major contribution to the sociological scholarship on work and family, in which Jerry Jacobs and Kathleen Gerson provide a critical review of the vast literature on time use, as well as their own detailed data analysis. They adjudicate between competing accounts of this subject, some of which argue that Americans are overworked (indeed, average working hours are longer in the US than in other advanced capitalist societies), and others that suggest that leisure time is more abundant today than it was a few decades ago… Jacobs and Gerson's careful, definitive analysis will be an indispensable reference in this field for many years to come.
The Time Divide [is an] indispensable reference on working time. [It] makes clear the need for revisions of U.S. social policy. Childcare is at the top of the list. Americans work much longer hours, on more 'nonstandard' schedules, than Europeans, but the United States provides far less in the way of childcare—whether day care or afterschool care. The United States fares no better in comparisons of paid family leaves, overtime laws, or part-time work. Besides demonstrating the pressing need to rethink outdated U.S. policies about time, [it] remind[s] readers that the proposed policy fixes are not utopian visions but mandates that already exist in most of Western Europe.
What is missing from the literature and for that matter, from policy discussions, is a wider, more comprehensive picture and deeper understanding of work–family conflicts experienced by the millions of less privileged Americans who want to work more but cannot. Jacobs and Gerson address this lacuna, examining five overlapping time divides based on large-scale quantitative data sets and cross-national comparisons of American workers and workplaces with their counterparts in America and Europe. While the intersections of time, work, family, and gender have been articulated by a number of sociologists, Jacobs and Gerson fill an important void in work–family conflict scholarship, both methodologically and substantively… Refraining from indulgent idealisms of total system overhauls, the authors present material solutions that are both feasible and promising… This book presents an original thesis supported with extensive quantitative research, cross-national data, and an incisive analysis of the key debates and issues surrounding work–family conflict in the academic and policy arenas Jacobs and Gerson have produced a useful piece of scholarship that will inform scholars in the fields of family, gender, and work, as well as public policy analysts. This is a thoughtful, coherent, and accessible book that is required reading for those interested in the balances of work and family; they should make time for The Time Divide.
- 272 pages
- 0-5/8 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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