Drawing on hundreds of interviews from around the country, original survey research, and national labor force data, Moe and Shandy refocus the discussion of women who opt out from one where they are the object of scrutiny to one where their aspirations and struggles tell us about the far broader swath of American women who continue to juggle paid work and family. Moe and Shandy examine the many pressures that influence a woman’s decision to resign, reduce, or reorient her career. These include the mismatch between child-care options and workplace demands, the fact that these women married men with demanding careers, the professionalization of stay-at-home motherhood, and broad failures in public policy. But Moe and Shandy are equally attentive to the resilience of women in the face of life decisions that might otherwise threaten their sense of self-worth. Moe and Shandy find, for instance, that women who have downsized their careers stress the value of social networks—of “running with a pack of smart women” who’ve also chosen to emphasize motherhood over paid work.
When The Time Bind was first published in 1997, it was hailed as the decade's most influential study of our work/family crisis. In the short time since, the crisis has only become more acute.
Arlie Russell Hochschild, bestselling author of The Second Shift, spent three summers at a Fortune 500 company interviewing top executives, secretaries, factory hands, and others. What she found was startling: Though every mother and nearly every father said "family comes first," few of these working parents questioned their long hours or took the company up on chances for flextime, paternity leave, or other "family friendly" policies. Why not? It seems the roles of home and work had reversed: work was offering stimulation, guidance, and a sense of belonging, while home had become the place in which there was too much to do in too little time.
Today Hochschild's findings are more relevant than ever. As she shows in her new introduction, the borders between family and work have become even more permeable. With the Internet extending working hours at home and offices offering domestic enticements -- free snacks, soft music -- to keep employees later at their jobs, The Time Bind stands as an increasingly important warning about the way we live and work.