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The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  35 ratings  ·  12 reviews
In The Tumbleweed Society, Allison Pugh offers a moving exploration of sacrifice, betrayal, defiance, and resignation, as people cope in a society where relationships and jobs seem to change constantly. Based on eighty in-depth interviews with parents who have varied experiences of job insecurity and socio-economic status, Pugh finds most seem to accept job insecurity as i ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published May 1st 2015 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 22nd 2014)
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3.54  · 
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 ·  35 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Mark Underwood
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: social activists unafraid of academic writing
Recommended to Mark by: Amazon Vine
A Voice for Employment Fairness: Farsighted, Faint

Allison Pugh's (@Allison_Pugh) sociology project, The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity paints a grim picture of work life in America and forecasts that it will get worse. She does not mention anything about it getting better, but -- well, those Americans are an adaptable bunch.

There aren't as many possible perspectives on this text as there are thorns on a drought-happy tumbleweed (and this reviewer grew up in Tucson
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Needless to say, the plant-people tumbleweed analogy won't parallel perfectly, but it's a colorfully useful image. Living in the southwest, I've seen lots of tumbleweeds, but still needed to learn a little about them. Via wikipedia, here are a few facts:

"A tumbleweed is a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of any of a number of species of plants, a diaspore that, once it is mature and dry, detaches from its root or stem, and tumbles away in the wind. ... Tumbleweed species occur most co
Philip Cohen
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. I wrote about it here
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
At the outset of her book Pugh establishes the archetype of many of the people I work alongside, who fall under the moniker ‘tumbleweed’. She uses the analogy in her title to describe those employees and intimate partners who pick up and move along, often with very little foresight or advanced planning, in search of different employment and intimate relationships.

Pugh makes her analogy without dwelling on it—she could have put the problem another way, I suppose, by asking why it is that some ind
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sociology
Sociology of the divided mind: Tackling the mind-body disorders of the 21 century.

The 21 century is becoming more like a tumbleweed society, where job insecurity is large and the economic disparities are wide. Will this eventually become 99.9 percent to 0.1 percent class system? What would be the future of let “free market” take care of itself so that the prosperity offered thus far will continue to get better, as many politicians like us to believe every four years when they need our votes. In
Nancy Kennedy
Jan 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Allison Pugh's book is part Studs Terkel, part sociology textbook. I always appreciate authors who insert real life into their manuscripts, instead of just dry statistics and theories. In her book, Ms. Pugh examines the flexibility (or fragility, depending on how you look at it) inherent in today's work environment and home life through the lens of about eighty people.

By "Tumbleweed Society," Ms. Pugh means that we as Americans are less tethered to communities, jobs and family members than in pa
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
There have been so many good books recently about the plight of the American worker and massive financial inequality worldwide. According to The Economist, the wealth of the top 0.10 percent will soon exceed that of the bottom 90 oercent. The Tumbleweed Society looks at the worker from a different angle. Sociologist Alison Pugh investigates how job insecurity is affecting workers' personal lives apart from work.

Pugh interviews dozens of workers, mostly parents, to find out about their marriages
Christine Zibas
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book addresses an important topic that, frankly, not enough people are talking about these days. While commentators focus on the economic crisis and recovery, companies and stock prices, too few examine the effect it has had on working people at every level (except, perhaps, to count up the officially unemployed). This book goes deeper, into the issue of job insecurity, which many would argue is simply a modern day fact of life.

While it may be an omnipresent condition for many (at a time wh
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
The Tumbleweed Society by Allison J. Pugh associate professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia is a useful examination of the modern American, middle class work place. The author, rightly in many ways, expresses the modern work place, particularly in corporations, as one where employees have few rights and the employers have few obligations. As a work to study among a broad group of individuals, how these changes are effecting them, this book is a good start, and a decent continuation ...more
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Allison J. Pugh is a sociologist who studied The Tumbleweed Society, one in which work is temporary and poorly paid. She wondered if itinerant work changed social relationships and society also. She found people had more itinerant relationships with friends, marriages often ended and children lived with different parents or had step parents, etc. All caused by temporary life situations. Employers also had few obligations to employees and could leave the area quickly.
Tina Panik
A strong premise, but the heavy reliance on case studies and narratives made it a cumbersome read.
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331.2596 P9782 2015
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