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.
When Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, a bewildered nation turned to Strangers in Their Own Land to understand what Trump voters were thinking when they cast their ballots. Arlie Hochschild, one of the most influential sociologists of her generation, had spent the preceding five years immersed in the community around Lake Charles, Louisiana, a Tea Party stronghold. As Jedediah Purdy put it in the New Republic, “Hochschild is fascinated by how people make sense of their lives. . . . [Her] attentive, detailed portraits . . . reveal a gulf between Hochchild’s ‘strangers in their own land’ and a new elite.” Already a favorite common read book in communities and on campuses across the country and called “humble and important” by David Brooks and “masterly” by Atul Gawande, Hochschild’s book has been lauded by Noam Chomsky, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, and countless others.
The paperback edition features a new afterword by the author reflecting on the election of Donald Trump and the other events that have unfolded both in Louisiana and around the country since the hardcover edition was published, and also includes a readers’ group guide at the back of the book.
According to the Leisure Studies Department at the University of Iowa, true leisure is "that place in which we realize our humanity." If that's true, argues Brigid Schulte, then we're doing dangerously little realizing of our humanity. In Overwhelmed, Schulte, a staff writer for The Washington Post, asks: Are our brains, our partners, our culture, and our bosses making it impossible for us to experience anything but "contaminated time."
Schulte first asked this question in a 2010 feature for The Washington Post Magazine: "How did researchers compile this statistic that said we were rolling in leisure—over four hours a day? Did any of us feel that we actually had downtime? Was there anything useful in their research—anything we could do?"
A New York Times bestseller, Overwhelmed is a map of the stresses that have ripped our leisure to shreds, and a look at how to put the pieces back together. Schulte speaks to neuroscientists, sociologists, and hundreds of working parents to tease out the factors contributing to our collective sense of being overwhelmed, seeking insights, answers, and inspiration. She investigates progressive offices trying to invent a new kind of workplace; she travels across Europe to get a sense of how other countries accommodate working parents; she finds younger couples who claim to have figured out an ideal division of chores, childcare, and meaningful paid work. Overwhelmed is the story of what she found out.