Work and Family Arlie Russell Hochschild's The Book Report

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Work and Family

Arlie Russell Hochschild's "The Second Shift"

Balancing Work and Family

Arlie Russell Hochschild's "The Second Shift"

Balancing Work and Family

Women and men now both work in the United States, and, according to a study conducted by Arlie Hochschild, they are dealing with the change differently. The roles that men and women have traditionally held in the home world and work world have been defined very clearly, but those roles are changing for many couples. Unfortunately, as women enter the workforce, many are experiencing resistance from their husbands with regard to the work role that they now enjoy. Hochschild lived with families as they went through their daily lives to determine how a possible change in roles was affecting the relationships among couples. She identified three distinct gender ideologies that individuals hold. Each person also has certain gender strategies and myths that they operate under. This essay will define the terms to be used, and then examine how three of the couples in the study were influenced by their separate ideologies, strategies and myths.

The ideology that an individual possesses with regard to gender role can be a deeply engrained world view that it is difficult to mold. Hochschild identified three ideologies that were common among the couples whom she worked with. First, there is the traditional belief that men are meant to be the primary "breadwinners," and women should stay in the home to take care of it, her children and her husband. With the advent of occupational freedom that has allowed women to work outside the home n any type of employment they can imagine, many individuals have adopted an egalitarian ideology. This can be bet described as the belief that men and women should share in the roles that they have both at home and in the workplace. This does not mean a division of labor which places men in more traditional roles, such as changing the oil in the car exclusive to other jobs in the house, and that women should continue to do most of the cooking and cleaning that exist. Men and women should not only be equal with regard to time of labor, but type of labor also. This will take the burden of believing that the house is theirs to take care of away from women and give the family a truly equal footing. The third ideology that individuals can adopt is termed transitional. This is the middling belief that men should be the primary breadwinners, but that they should also support their wife's work ambitions as long as those ambitions do not affect their role in the house. These beliefs were a constant among the individuals in the study.

The fourth through twelfth chapters in the book talk about specific couples who have different ideas about what roles men and women should have at home and in the workplace. The individuals who make up the couples sometimes agree, but most often there are different impressions among the men and women as to how roles should be carried out. This leads to people who entertain gender strategies and myths along with their differing ideologies.

The first couple mentioned, in chapter four, is Evan and Nancy Holt. This is the most typical type of couple among the ones interviewed. Because of the greater financial freedom a couple can experience die to the woman working, these individuals both feel that it would be better if the woman worked also. Unfortunately, they are also typical, in that, they do not share a gender ideology. Evan is in the transitional camp. He is fine with the fact that his wife works as long as it does not affect how his life continues at home. He believes that Nancy should take care of their child, and that she should perform the functions that a housewife does. He also has a difficult time engaging with their son other than the occasional play time. Nancy loves her job, and she does not think that she should be the sole homemaker. She is egalitarian in philosophy. The problem that she has is that regardless any pleading on her part; Evan is stuck in his role. Therefore, she begins to develop an unhealthy attachment to her son. The belief of both Evan and Nancy is that Joey has the problem. They believe that Joey is having a "typical" oedipal complex, and that neither of the parents have control over the fact that the child is much more attached to his mother than his father. What Hochschild believed is that Nancy did not feel as close to Evan because of they differed in their gender ideology. Thus, Nancy was overly attentive to her son as a substitute. This unhealthy relationship led to a division that caused both, especially Nancy, that divorce was an option. Hochschild discussed this in depth with the belief that the rise in the divorce rate could be traced, in part, to the differing beliefs that men and women had regarding gender ideologies. The myth that Evan has is that his wife wants to work in the home and that her job is not as important to her as it actually is. He employs the strategy of selective encouragement, such as when he occasionally plays with Joey. Nancy uses the myth that evan actually shares in the work and uses the strategy of being the supermom.

Chapter five introduced the reader to Frank and Carmen Delacorte. Both partners held the identical stance that men should be the breadwinner and women should take care of the home. The couple shares this ideology, but because they face the same financial hurdles that many couples face, they are unable to exist on his salary alone. Thus, Carmen is forced to work for pay outside of the home which affects both people within the couple negatively. The couple does not resist the need for Carmen to work, but both are not happy that it is a necessity. Because of the need for Carmen to work, she attempts to boost Frank's ego, even if unintentionally, by being submissive to Frank and also playing that she is incompetent as a strategy. It would seem from the outside that she is doing this for her own benefit, but she is actually doing it for both people. She believes that Frank needs to feel that he is the breadwinner and that he may be slightly emasculated by the fact that he is not able to provide all that his family needs. Therefore, she acts a part for Frank, so they can both feel that they remain in the roles that they are supposed to fulfill. The helplessness and incompetence make it necessary for Frank to rescue her from herself, so both can continue to believe that they remain in the roles that they are supposed to occupy. This couple is definitely in the minority since both continue to believe that men and women should occupy traditional roles. Frank's myth is that he can continue to fulfill the role of sole breadwinner and Carmen shares the same myth. Frank employs the strategy of disaffiliation.

The tenth chapter introduces Greg and Carol Alston. This is a couple that is more financially stable than any of the others. There is no reason for them to have two incomes except for the fact that they both want to work. They both shared what they considered was an egalitarian view of work/home relationships. However, even among the perfect couple there were signs that Hochschild noted that inequalities in reality existed. When the couple felt that the children needed more care than they were getting, Carol was the one who cut her work hours for the children. It was never discussed by the author whether this was a choice by the couple because Carol wanted to be the one to care for the children or because they opted for the woman to assume a more traditional role. This couple believed that they shared everything equally, but Carol was actually the primary care giver for the children even before she reduced her hours at work. The full time jobs, such as cooking and cleaning in the home, that women assume were completed more often by Carol than they were by Greg. Despite the fact that this couple believed that they were very egalitarian in their outlook and thought that they exemplified an equal spread of work across the marriage, Carol was the person who performed more of the traditional roles than did Greg. The myth by Greg is that he shares equally, and this seems to be the myth for Carol also. Carol is a supermom, but the strategy for Greg is more selective encouragement.

One of the main points that Hochschild makes is that men and women, even those who believed that they were in an egalitarian relationship, did not divide the work in the home evenly. Women typically performed more of the jobs that were required every day, while…[continue]

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