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The Second Shift

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Fifteen years after its first publication, The Second Shift remains just as important and relevant today as it did then. As the majority of women entered the workforce, sociologist and Berkeley professor Arlie Hochschild was one of the first to talk about what really happens in dual-career households. Many people were amazed to find that women still did the majority of childcare and housework even though they also worked outside the home. Now, in this updated edition with a new introduction from the author, we discover how much things have, or have not, changed for women today.

352 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1989

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About the author

Arlie Russell Hochschild

30 books446 followers
Arlie Russell Hochschild is the author of The Outsourced Self, The Time Bind, Global Woman, The Second Shift, and The Managed Heart. She is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her articles have appeared in Harper's, Mother Jones, and Psychology Today, among others. She lives in San Francisco.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 184 reviews
Profile Image for Dave.
8 reviews3 followers
September 21, 2009
I truly think every married man, newlywed or otherwise should read this book. This book is a sociological study about how men and women share the 'second shift', the time and the work put in at home in terms of both house work and child rearing. While there are various issues with the sampling (all one company, all one geographical area, etc, which she does disclose at the end of the book) I think she arrives at very correct conclusions.

I cannot stress enough, my wife DID NOT urge me to read this book. I picked it up off of her bookshelf as I want to learn more about Sociology, her field. I chose this book because it seemed to have a very direct bearing on my current life situation. We are a two job household. We do not currently have children, but we plan to in the future.

I found myself shaking my head at many of the men in this book, and a few of the women. I cannot believe the lack of communication that occurs between some of these couples and feel blessed to have entered a marriage based on communication as a major if not the penultimate resource for surviving and thriving together. Communication, or lack thereof, seems to be a prevailing issue amongst most of these couples who have issues on the second shift. Outside cultural forces: male privilege, male dominated society, and a devaluation of the second shift among them seem to actually be the biggest impediments to a happy marital life. I truly appreciate the book opening my eyes to a few of these things. Specifically:

- Realizing the step down from an agrarian household, to a urban household caused a major cultural shift for men, and they had their wives at home building a bastion for them against these new outside forces of a modern, foreign world. Now women are taking a step from an urban household, out into the working world, and have no such assistance from men at home. They are expected to change DRAMATICALLY, taking steps forward to help the total household earning potential (or necessity) and men (again, in general) are staying put, not helping them!

- Hearing about 'balancing' about made me want to vomit. This particular form of balancing involves a woman making more than a man, or having a more important role at work, and then coming home and having to take on more of the role of housewife to make her man feel more 'masculine'. So NOW she not only is the primary household earner, but to protect our horribly, insanely, fragile male ego, has to do more at home to make us feel better. Ugh, I have never been more happy to be less 'masculine'.

Primarily this book made me think. And isn't that what all books should do? I am truly a better person for having read this book. I will be more apt to see if I am slacking around the house, with future children, etc. I had a few blinders pulled from around my eyes as to the familial life that many couples must endure. I am that much more secure in my own skin for realizing my brand of masculinity fits me and my marriage perfectly. I am that much more indebted to and in love with my wife.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
February 24, 2019
I keep reading these mediocre books about the inequalities in womens work at home and I just realized that I had never read this one--the book that opened the dialogue. Though dated a bit, the book is excellent. Hochschild's books are usually a series of interviews, but what makes her books stand out is that she reveals not just what people are saying, but the deep stories behind their concerns. She uses deep story in her newer Strangers in their Own Land book. Here she uses "marriage myths" but it's the same idea. It's the extra step that researchers usually don't do--they give us the data and expect us to come up with our own conclusions. This one offers conclusions that you can disagree with, but at least it's a culling of the information.
Profile Image for Penney.
355 reviews13 followers
November 1, 2012
Because running a household is work, and like any good business, the load must be negotiated and shared.

The first class I stepped into for my undergraduate education was “Sociology of the Family,” and this book served as required reading. It changed my world. Have you ever wondered why women send all the family Christmas cards and buy the birthday presents? Why Pinterest is angled at weddings and hairstyle and entertaining children? Why dads “mean fun, but moms mean business?” (Yes, that’s a quote from Honey I Shrunk the Kids).

As Hochschild points out through her work with couples and families, if you add the time it takes to do a paid job plus housework and childcare, women work roughly 15 hours longer each week than men. Over a year, they work an extra month of 24 hour days. Most women work one shift at the office and a “second shift” at home. This book isn’t about man-bashing, though; it explores the assumptions we make about who is supposed to do what in relationships. Read this when you set up a joint household.

“A twenty-six-year-old legal secretary, the mother of two and married to a businessman, said, “[My husband] empties the garbage occasionally and sweeps. That’s all. He does no cooking, no washing, no anything else. How do I feel? Furious. If our marriage ends, it will be on this issue.””
Profile Image for Christine.
40 reviews2 followers
May 1, 2011
There is good news and bad news:

The bad news is that women get the shaft, big time. The good news is that most of us are in the same boat.

I think this is a MUST READ for any single (as in, not yet married) female. AHEM Lauren!

I can't speak for everyone, but I know many women in my generation are told they can be anything they want, they can have kids and a career and do it all, right? It is a tragedy that women are not told the other half of the story - that they are capable of doing anything but likely will not be supported by their spouses, will not be in fair relationships and, that often their desires will take a backseat in a relationship while BOTH sexes will make excuses to justify it.

This book is half nothing new, and half shocking...I mean, we all know women are flexible and that they do most of the work at home, regardless if they work or not. But putting numbers and statistics on it will depress you to a new level. Women working an extra month a year? Sad, yet believable.

Perhaps the most shocking thing (to me) is that typically when men are given an ultimatum, to pitch in more at home on the "second shift" or be divorced, they simply choose not to change and to proceed with divorce. Other men make judgment calls with how supportive they are with their wives: one will support more at home if his wife is in a "worthwhile career" while he admits he would not support his wife working if she were in a less worthy (in his eyes) career.

Even if you're not in a relationship, not marriage minded, you might still be working with/for men like these, and it's fascinating/horrific to see how they are motivated. I now understand how society and the workplace has been set up for male success, not family success. I'd love to know what more men think about this book...i have not seen many reviews by men. :(
Profile Image for Kateryna Martynenko.
75 reviews18 followers
April 19, 2021
Одна з найкращих книжок на тему гендеру, які я читала! Книга написала в кінці 80-х років в Америці, але вона не просто не втратила своєї актуальності, а для України є просто ідеальною саме зараз. Для розгляду авторка провела дослідження подружніх пар, де обидва подружжя працюють і дослідила те, як вони розподіляють домашні обов'язки та догляд за дітьми.
Книга складається з детального розгляду 10 подружніх пар з різним способом розподілення домашніх обов'язків, які були типовими у дослідженні.

Із 10 пар лише 2 пари дійсно справедливо ділили домашні обов'язки, тоді як у 8 парах або повністю все було на жінках, або чоловіки робили дуже мало. Загалом, саме таке співвідношення прослідковувалось щодо загальної кількості пар, досліджених для книги.

Ця книга надзвичайно вражає, бо вона також розгортає психологічні мотиви поведінки людей стосовно прийняття чи втечі від домашніх обов'язків. Так, наводиться приклад сім'ї, де дружина стверджує, що вони ділять обов'язки порівну, коли на практиці порівну означає, що чоловік займається гаражем - тобто своїми хоббі, а вона будинком зверху - тобто повністю всім побутом. Дружина застосовує різноманітні когнітивні викривлення для того, щоб не усвідомлювати, що пахає за всю родину, та все ж відчуває певну приховану ненависть до чоловіка, що відображається у погіршенні стосунків та відсутності сексу.

Також наводяться приклади того, як чоловіки аргументують, чому вони не будуть займатися домашніми обов'язками. Одні чоловіки вважають, що раз вони "терплять" дружину, яка більше заробляє, то вони не можуть ще й зверху ущемитись виконанням "жіночих" обов'язків. Інші вважають, що виконуючи домашні обов'язки вони прогнуться під дружину і втратять свою "домінацію".

Загалом, усі пари авторка поділяє на традиційні, перехідні та егалітарні. Однак, авторка вказує на те, що цей розподіл ще ділиться на те, що люди хочуть думати і що вони роблять. Так, традиційні пари розраховують, що жінка буде упахуватись по господарству, не працювати поза домом і підкорятися чоловікові, а чоловік буде добитчиком. Перехідні пари розраховують, що жінка буде працювати поза домом, але і робитиме всю домашню роботу. Егалітарні пари розраховують на те, що обидва будуть працювати і поза домом, і вдома. Однак, на практиці, ці переконання не завжди 100% працюють. Так, багато традиційних пар стикаються з тим, що не проживуть на одну зарплату, а часто і долучають чоловіка до домашньої роботи тією чи іншою мірою.

Загалом, в кінці авторка говорить дуже важливу річ про те, що в сучасності робота, яку раніше виконували домогосподарки, вона ж домашня робота, втратила будь-яку цінність чи престиж. Вона сприймається як гидотна робота, яку треба скинути на платних робітниць чи на когось, хто не зможе відмовитись (дружини). Однак, від цієї роботи залежить благополуччя сімей і дітей і таке знецінення цієї роботи створює додаткові проблеми.

Ця книга дуже важлива для пост-радянського простору, бо авторка каже про застряглу революцію вдома, але такою застряглою як на теренах колишнього СССР, вона більш ніде не є. Якщо американські жінки вийшли на заробітки в 60-ті - 70-ті, то наші вийшли після революції, а віз і нині там - у нас не виникло запиту на залучених чоловіків і татів, а виник запит на традиціоналізм 2.0 з непрацюючими жінками, яких утримують багаті чоловіки.
Profile Image for Zara Rahman.
197 reviews79 followers
May 11, 2020
I love Hochschild's style of writing, storytelling, and research approach, and this book combines all of those things wonderfully. Even though this was first written in 1989, and within the context of the US, it was a fascinating read and written in a really compelling way.

The book focuses on labour division within heterosexual relationships in the US, and she dives into the ins and outs of a few specific relationships in detail, providing both of the partners' perspectives, the people they outsource that labour to when relevant, and her own analysis - all making for a truly thought-provoking combination. Things that stood out to me were the myths that 'feminist' women tell themselves to help them avoid confrontation with their male partners who aren't contributing to household labour; the way in which masculinity and manhood hasn't transformed at anything like the rate that women's roles have in terms of cultural/social norms (ie. now women can work + be mothers + 'do it all', which is a big shift from 'just' being housewives; but expectations + representations of men have stayed mostly the same); and the incredibly low standards that (most!) women have for men in their relationships.

All in all, I'm not sure quite how much of it is relevant today (I hope not so much, but I fear probably more than that) - nor how much is relevant outside of the US, given their complete lack of family-oriented policies - but Hochschild's writing and research approach means that this is a really compelling read, regardless of applicability.
Profile Image for Molly.
73 reviews
September 23, 2022
Mycket lärorik inför framtiden när man ska balansera jobb och familj. Den visar också hur lätt det är att hamna i mamma - fällan.
39 reviews1 follower
June 15, 2021
Less about the trials of working mothers and more about the internal dynamics of marriages than I expected it to be. Will definitely make my future partner read this book, and will be gifting it to all of my friends considering marriages- I think it would spark essential conversations about work, family, gender and fairness.

One particularly interesting takeaway: through the first half of the cultural revolution (women entering the workforce) we have devalued traditional women’s roles of caring for others / caring for the home (since these are roles we often contract out to paid help). In order to un-stall the revolution, we need to encourage men to take up those roles of caring for others/home (in order to reduce the burden on working mothers and make it possible for them to compete with their male colleagues who do not have disproportionately large burdens at home). In order to encourage men to take up those roles we need to elevate them in our cultural and moral understanding; we need to encourage men to become active fathers not only because it is fair, respectful, feminist and just, but also because the work of fatherhood is important and valuable, because active fathers create more emotionally stable children, happier marriages and better lives for themselves and their families.
Profile Image for Faye Zheng.
144 reviews8 followers
April 18, 2020
Written in 1989, this is the OG book about the challenges for women in two-income households, and it absolutely is still as relevant today (unfortunately) as it was three decades ago.

Given how long I’ve been interested this topic, I wasn’t expecting much more out of the book, but I was mistaken - there were a ton of new interpretations and perspectives given to the problem, many of which I hadn’t previously considered.

The book goes WAY beyond stating the problem. (We all know that working women still do more at home, and that what each does at home is deeply gendered.)

Where it gets really interesting is the following central observation, which she spends the entire book supporting in great detail:

Each person is constantly having to interrelate what they think (their gender ideology), what they feel, and what they do. This combination of thought, feeling, and action constitutes what she calls a “gender strategy”. The interplay between the gender strategies of two people in a marriage determines how they actually divide the second shift. All the ways in which contradictions can occur between thought and action, or between thought and feeling, feed into a wide range of marriage dynamics in the household.

Too many other thoughts to list here. Highly highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Rachel.
94 reviews
January 13, 2020
I truly think this book is so important for anyone in a relationship to read, whether you're going to have kids or not. It really analyzes different ways that couples may split up household duties and how that may affect your relationship. It's also easy to just read a chapter here and there vs reading it cover to cover. This was assigned for a gender and sex roles sociology course I took
Profile Image for Mothwing.
849 reviews18 followers
June 3, 2020
This makes me feel even sadder for average heterosexual couples and even more confused as to why many of the ones I know are even together. If I was raising children with someone who needed a support staff around at all times to prop up their frail gender ID I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with them, that sounds so incredibly unattractive to me. I prefer a partner who can pull her own weight.
Profile Image for Jordan Santos.
85 reviews283 followers
July 19, 2022
Life changing and very validating. A must read for anyone in a relationship, anyone living with a partner, anyone married or about to be. As someone who has struggled with external opinions (namely, my parents) about my “role” in my relationship, this book confirmed so much of what I suspected in gender roles and expectations within a family unit. I’ve gifted it to three friends already and plan to share it with more.

It was first published in 1989, but still so relevant today. It talks about how not enough has changed as women have entered the workforce yet still are expected to take on the “second shift” of the majority of housework and childcare. While women have advanced so far in society in the past few decades, men and workplaces have remained largely unchained and have a lot of progress left to make. It’s a necessary read for both men and women.

I have so many dog ears and highlights in this book and plan to revisit.

“Many women struggle to avoid, suppress, obscure, or justify a frightening conflict over the second shift… they are forced to choose between equality and marriage. And they choose marriage.” (60)

“The belief that their husbands shared 50% of the work at home was fairly common among successful upper middle class professional women in the late 80s, women who carried most of the burden of the second shift.” (106)

“When girls grow up, they seek to recapitulate… by becoming mothers themselves. When boys grow up, they try to recapitulate… by finding a woman ‘like mother.’” (163)

“Supermoming was a way of absorbing into oneself the conflicting demands of home and work. To prepare themselves emotionally, many supermoms develop a conception of themselves as ‘on the go, organized, competent,’ as women without need for rest, without personal needs. Both as a preparation for this strategy and as a consequence of it, supermoms tended to seem out of touch with their feelings.” (204)

“It was a privilege to have a wife tend the home. If a man shared the second shift, that privilege was lost.” (209)

“The female culture has shifted more rapidly than the male culture; the image of the go get ‘em woman has yet to be fully matched by the image of the lets take care of the kids together man.” (214)

“What did contribute to happiness was the husbands willingness to do the work at home. Sharing the second shift improved a marriage regardless of what ideas either had about mens and womens roles.” (221)

“127 countries — including virtually every industrial nation — mandate some sort of paid family leave. But in the US, the richest nation in the world, working parents are not guaranteed a penny of paid leave to stay at home with a newborn baby.” (280)

Profile Image for Vita Byrd.
102 reviews15 followers
October 24, 2019
The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home primarily addresses what the heterosexual family unit must do in order to allow the woman to prosper professionally - men must do their share in taking care of children and the home. It really stresses how early women should begin having these conversations about the ground rules of their marriage, especially since prime child rearing years coincide with critical career-building years. I really liked that Arlie Hochschild also commented on the fact that because of the second shift women are usually responsible for at home, there’s a “leisure gap” at home that working women experience which mimics the “pay gap” they have with their male colleagues. She also notes that the second shift also has repercussions for men who contribute very little and their wives build up resent and withdraw from them. It was really interesting to see how many couples had a “marital myth” about themselves - the difference in the family model they thought they had and what the author actually observed. Some seemingly traditional couples were actually more egalitarian when observed closely whereas couples that were adamant about striving for the egalitarian model were often more transitional, if not traditional. Overall, the The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home closely examines the steps that we need to take to allow for a cultural shift to happen in the workplace and in our homes to reduce the burden on women.

As a policy professional and a woman, I picked up this book because I am invested in understanding how our careers can be redesigned to suit workers who also care for families as we move away from the traditional family model where the husband works and the wife holds down the fort at home. I feel that this book holds a lot of pertinent advice for young, professional couples. Interestingly enough, I noticed that the author did not comment on a common pattern throughout the book which was that the couple seemed to absorb the added responsibility of adding a child into their marriage just fine the first time around, but things got very chaotic as soon as there were two children. I also wish that she did a deeper dive into analyzing what the current situation at home was for women past 2010. She went into a bit of detail around that and assessed where we are in terms of childcare policy but her policy suggestions were not as developed as I would have liked them to be. Oh well, I'm sure there's another sociologist that will build on her work and come out with a more recent analysis soon. I'll sure be there to read it!
Profile Image for Maggie.
159 reviews2 followers
May 13, 2016
This was required reading for a second writing GE class I took first semester of my junior year in college. We were to read this ethnography, read a peer-reviewed research paper debunking the myths in this book, and then write a paper summing up both arguments. Needless to say, everyone knows GE stands for 'classes that no on wants to take but has to", so I was not particularly excited about this. I had hope this class I chose to fulfill the requirement called "American Family Issues" would discuss a wide variety of topics; poverty, divorce, children, work, drugs and alcohol, teenage drama, etc. Our professor instead chose to focus the entire semester on American Family Issues related exclusively to work. What an immense disappointment. But, in the beginning, I didn't know that was going to happen. I thought this topic was how she was choosing to begin the course (this was our first assignment). The book seemed interesting; I was familiar with the concept of the Second Shift and Arlie Hochschild's other work through several sociology classes I had already taken.

I went into this book knowing it might be slightly outdated, but nonetheless hoped it would be interesting. A glimpse into the past in the hope of understanding the present, so to say. What I did not expect was for the book to be so shallow in its research, so lacking in diversity and evidence. The majority of the couples in the book are white, middle class; most are from California, if I remember correctly. She only interviews one couple who would prefer a 'traditional' work-home arrangement to both parents working, and methods of coping that she describes from the husbands and wives of all couples seemed extremely basic in their creation. I found this book to be not so much about the Second Shift, but how men and women in the marriages portrayed are apparently unwilling or incapable of compromise and healthy marital communication. At times, it seemed like both parents despised doing work around the house and caring for the children that I couldn't help but wonder what kind of delusions they possibly had about parenthood and child-rearing before they actually began the process.

I'm sure at the time the book was published, the findings put forward by the author were thought-provoking and revolutionary. The concept of the Second Shift is now common knowledge. But I do not believe this book aged well, and, in hindsight, I think there are a great deal of issues regarding the research, the findings, and the evidence presented in this ethnography. I would recommend this to married couples who are having difficulty understanding each others' desires due to issues with communicating, students or adults interested in learning about different roles played by and expected of mothers and fathers throughout history, and anyone who is wondering where many modern ideas about both of those roles came from.
Profile Image for Katty.
147 reviews32 followers
December 17, 2019
As a woman who's nearing the halfway point between twenty and thirty, I am now more than ever encountering a topic that I've long dreaded - marriage and family. I say dreaded not because I loathe men or children, am a raging feminazi lesbian, or any other absurd conservative stereotype. Rather, the dread comes from the reactions I get when I express my ambivalence towards having children and state that I am single by choice and not interested in changing my relationship status for the foreseeable future. Why? people my conservative family wants to know (most particularly the men). Why a lack of enthusiasm for the greatest joy you'll ever encounter in life?

After rolling my eyes at the notion that children are the key to all forms of human happiness and fulfillment, I want to hand each of them a copy of The Second Shift and say, "That's why." Because out of marriage/family, career, and personal needs (sleep, self-care, ect.), women basically get to choose two. Choosing career and personal needs and opting out of family duties often is not an option, so really the choice is between having a career and having any time to attend to your own needs.

This is not an uncommon realization. Most women have faced this dilemma before, or at least know other women who have. But even today it's so often brushed aside, even by well-intentioned individuals. The "Can women really have it all?" debates all focus on the woman's role, and either what she can do to "have it all" or how she can learn to cope with making difficult choices. There's little discussion on the part that men play in this or how we could best work together to find a balance between family duties, career duties, and personal needs, not just for women, but for all members of dual-income families.

The Second Shift started that necessary conversation, turning light onto the imbalance that was (and continues to be) ignored. It is nuanced, taking on the impact of factors such as societal expectations, masculinity and femininity, childhood and adolescent environment, race, socioeconomic status, and the pressure to be successful in a myriad of ways. It explores the household dynamics and inequalities without being accusatory and offers the perspectives of both sides. The in-depth case studies demonstrate how couples have the potential to improve communication, prevent conflict, and enjoy a better marriage by learning how to understand the household's and each other's needs. It's truly an essential work, one with the power to contribute to a necessary adaption in modern American family life.
Profile Image for Tricia Rosetty.
51 reviews15 followers
April 15, 2013
A few years ago, I told a girlfriend of mine that the reason women didn't run the world is we get distracted by housework. I was joking, but as it turns out, I wasn't too far from being right. Women work 2-4 extra weeks a year compared to their husbands when it comes to domestic and family care, and when pushed, men often avoid the work entirely (beds don't need made, hire a maid, etc.).

Prof. Hochschild's book offers fantastic insight into this imbalance and its many forms; I'd highly recommend it. From a purely intellectual perspective, it's fascinating and digestible by a lay person (it also made me want to read more sociology books). From a personal perspective, it spoke to some things very close to me and gave words and concepts to thoughts and feelings I'd only loosely grasped before: gender strategies (e.g., I looked at the people and opportunities around me to determine what type of woman made sense in my context), the economy of gratitude, and the difference between managing and doing domestic work.

My only disappointment was that only heterosexual couples with children were included in the study. I'm actually writing a letter to the author (I'm THAT nerdy) asking if there are similar studies of dual-career couples without children and research on same-sex, dual-career couples with children. I'm curious about how the second shift would be balanced in these cases and how gender strategies play out in the latter scenario.

What I took away from this work—particularly in light of some conversations I've heard in the news lately—is that balancing career and family cannot be a "women's problem." It's a family problem, and men should be part of families. The question isn't how women can balance work and motherhood. The question should be how can everyone do good work and nurture healthy families?
Profile Image for Kay.
519 reviews48 followers
February 9, 2013
OK, I'll admit that I've cited Arlie Horschild's work in this book without having ever read it until now. I was impressed at how this research, in which she presents the observations of 10 of the couples she and her colleague studied for years in the 1980s, remains so relevant to this day. Honestly, though this book is a sociological work, I think almost anyone could get something out of it.

The book takes a look at the politics of household work -- from gender ideologies to family myth-making -- and resonated with me. All too often, I think couples think that household responsibilities are too unimportant to spend much time or energy thinking about, but as Horschild points out, we're in the midst of a dramatic change in the way families economics are structured and the resentment of both men and women isn't insignificant. She takes on the different strategies families try, from the supermom/superdad strategy to the self-bargaining and the adherence to old-fashioned ideas about men earning and women doing child rearing. She also points out that something has to give: house work, child rearing, outside-the-home work, or one's marital and sex life. In short, Hochschild pretty much determines that you cannot, in fact, have it all.

She points out that almost every family that thinks they are splitting the work equally in fact is not. She also points out that those with more traditional gender ideologies actually tend to do a better job of splitting the chores, if only because they have little economic choice than to have the woman work as much as possible.

I'd say women should read the book, but frankly, it'd be great to see men read it too.
801 reviews3 followers
March 12, 2017
I found this book about working women and the division of labor in the home to be really fascinating. It was first published in 1989, so the families she follows are right in the middle of my parents and me as far as stage of life. I thought Hochschild created a useful construct in the "family myth," the stories people told themselves to make their situations palatable when they diverged from their expectations. Since the book was first published, it seems like men are generally becoming more involved in sharing the household and childcare duties, although there continues to be a heavier weight on women. Hopefully that trend will keep heading towards equity. I don't see as much improvement in the more systemic issues like childcare, family friendly workplaces, paid leave, and so on. I think there's a bit more flexibility on the higher end of the income scale with telecommuting and benefits, but unfortunately, it's on the lower end of the wage scale where it's needed most and is still lacking. We still don't recognize child care and elder care as being worthy of pay, and maybe that should change, too. Lots of great insight into what makes marriages happy or unhappy, too.
165 reviews
July 6, 2007
This book is the landmark study from the 1970s and 80s that explored the realities of two-income families and how they navigate domestic roles in the household, namely housework and child rearing. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in gender in the United States, the current brouhaha called "the mommy wars", or who has been shocked by the stats that show women still do 70% or more of the housework, even when they work full time.

Arlie Hochschild writes from a feminist point of view but her perspective is highly NON judgemental. This is no fiery feminist polemic, just a realistic slice-of-life look at the lives of two-income couples twenty-odd years ago. Don't let the date fool you- this issues still exist for couples on a grand scale today.

Hochschild has often collaborated with Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, so if you are familiar with the one, you'll likely be interested in the other.
Profile Image for Adanma.
41 reviews39 followers
May 28, 2014
At a time in my life where I am starting to think about what I want my future and career to look like, this was an important reminder of the cultural precedents and pressures in place that will impact my freedom to live the life I might want. It's hard to comprehend the sheer magnitude of Hochschild's research and what it meant at the time she published it, but its relevance today speaks volumes of how much is left to be done in the field of gender equality.
Profile Image for Georgina Jiménez.
25 reviews7 followers
December 25, 2016
Es un excelente libro sociológico para tratar de entender las dinámicas que refuerzan la desigualdad en hogares con doble ingreso. A pesar de ser escrito en los 80, el tema y su abordaje son de completa actualidad. Es un MUST para las personas interesadas en los estudios de género y desigualdad, y lo mejor es que no es exclusivo para un público académico, porque el lenguaje es sencillo y accesible. MEGA RECOMENDADO.

July 26, 2012
Second shift looks at women as an entire class using loosely tied together statistics. While at the same time discusses men in stereotypical tropes. You won't find many bad reviews of this book because very few people other than hardcore feminists and sociologists bother to read it. The book was written in the 1970's and the ideas are just as outdated second waver bullshit.
1 review1 follower
November 16, 2018
Essential reading. It's super helpful to ground feminist analysis in personal stories -- it makes the scholarship more immediate, tangible and accessible -- and this book does that. And as it does, Hochschild keeps pointing our attention back to what's shaping these couples' experience: our culture, our lack of caregiving legislation and a corporate workplace implicitly designed around the assumption that workers are male and have someone at home tending the basics of life and survival. In other words: patriarchy.

The result, beyond exhaustion, injustice, and real suffering for parents and kids is that women don't have "the luxury" of unequivocal love for their partners. In several case studies and her analysis, Hochschild points out that the women in many of these unions are ambivalent. They simultaneously love their husbands and resent the hell out of them. Often that resentment poisons the well.

In my circles, to address this collective problem of female resentment, here's what I could see happening: a female empowerment coach would come up with individualist programs and self-help solutions to transform the widespread phenomenon of women/wives resenting their male partners. There would be shadow work inquiring into the interior story of resentment. There would be mindset work reframing (and banishing) resentment. There would be 5-day challenges to let go of resentment and dwell in gratitude so as to improve your wellbeing and mental health. #selfcare.

Which is why I love this book so much: because it doesn't do that. It doesn't put the burden or the shame on women for having to cope with marriages, families, workplaces and lives shaped by never-ending inequity and exhaustion.

Because the truth is, we can't solve collective problems with individual coping mechanisms. Often we don't need self help; we need legislation and cultural and corporate norm-shifting.

A long time ago, I wrote a critical review of a book that, in truth, I wholeheartedly, unequivocally enjoyed. I was trying to prove myself in the cultural arena; I somehow believed that to be unabashedly enthusiastic about a text -- even when it deserved it!! -- wasn't real scholarship. And so I found fault. I wrote snark. And it wasn't right. No one said boo to me about it but my conscience knows. I'm still pained by it. Because of that, I resolved never to critique for the sake of critique or to find fault for the sake of looking sophisticated and smart. It's intellectually dishonest.

All of is to say: I don't have a lot to quibble with in this book. It really is excellent. I wish I could pass around copies to folks in all the business/baby FB groups I belong to.

And so I don't offer the next criticism lightly.

In this book, of the 10 couples interviewed, one is black; one is latinx; one is biracial. Only two were what I would characterize as working class/working poor. While Hochschild specifically attends to the nuances of social location and identity in her analysis, I did wish for more stories from the lives of couples like this. I also wondered what a companion to this book would like like, featuring the gender strategies of queer and gay couples.

But, I suppose, that was not this book. A book can't be all things. And what Hochschild sets out to do, she does really, really well. This book revises and recontextualizes so much of our parenting/work/gender imperatives and makes it abundantly clear that the problem is bigger than what goes on in individual homes and workplaces. And that helps relocate the shame, which in turn create possibilities for effective action -- you know, the kind that addresses the real causes of our suffering rather than proposing self-help placebos for mediating or coping with an unjust status quo.
Profile Image for C.
1,204 reviews29 followers
February 13, 2023
The people in this book triggered the living heck out of me now and again, but the book itself was a good read and I love that she did this study. I also enjoy her writing "voice."

Some of the stories of couples remind me of my ex and I - either as we were, or how it would have been if we'd had kids together. I think most women have examples to draw from that tie into this book. It feels like a "must read" because of that, but can also be intensely uncomfortable for the same reason.

The book was published in 1989. She updates roughly to 2010 with supplemental info on studies that have taken place since. It presents some hopeful (though not yet ideal) progress. I will have to see if there are other books out there addressing 2010+ family dynamics. I am curious to see how things are in 2020+ compared to 2010 (though I imagine those results would not be out for some time) and also: how does the socialization of gender roles work its way down generations (if it does) in LGBTQ relationships? How does that compare against heteronormative relationships and do they impact each other?

I enjoyed reading her observations about motivations behind behaviors and fears in the relationships. I was particularly interested in her observations of mythology told to keep the peace in situations that were not working at all. I hadn't thought about it before, but I've certainly sold myself plenty of bullsh#t and I've watched others do the same. Divorce is terrifying, especially if you've been married many years and have "locked in" to certain beliefs and roles. I also don't think the perception of the divorced woman as a "fallen" woman has really changed. When I divorced, I felt like I was covered in betadine - an orange ugly stain of "ick." I think many of us find other ways to psych ourselves up to make that leap and some of those choices also add to the "stain" the people around us react to.

All together, it can feel easier to make concessions and try to just form an acceptable life around a partner who is adding more weight to the load instead of toppling the whole load and possibly getting buried in a landslide triggered by the thud.

It is so hard for me to write this review without derailing. This book unearthed a lot of buried garbage for me - it's good to get it out into the light and recognize it, but not fun.

It is also hard for me to read her suggestions on how we could make our society better for modern families. I liked the suggestions, but I'm feeling cynical this morning. It seems we live in a system set up to dump resources everywhere except into considered decisions making sure we (Americans) are well-fed, educated, housed, healthy and mentally well.

Overall, I'm glad I read it (no really!). Looking forward to reading her other books.
November 26, 2019
What a great book! I found myself highlighting so many sentences. As a woman who worked full- time while raising four kids- two are out of the house now- the book completely resonated with me. As I read, I got so angry at many of the men in the case studies and empathized with almost all of the women. One of the men was just a darling, the way he saw his role as going 50/50 with his wife and as a caregiver for his step-child.

It is now 2019 and I no longer have small children at home- now I am finally able, after 25 years, to completely embrace my career and really go for it. It’s not that my husband ever stood in my way. He was completely supportive. It’s just that I taught for so many years so that I could have a career AND have time to feed my kids dinner, be home with them on the weekends, and have summers off to spend with them. I no longer teach- now I can work in a male dominated career and actually participate on a more even playing field with the men. I actually stand a chance at success since my kids are older.

So many of the women in this book were fighting battles at work, then coming home and fighting more battles with spouses plus doing more of the work.
Arlie Hochschild talks about a “stalled revolution.”

I’ve always felt this frustration as a working woman. I would notice that I was happier during the summers and breaks from school when I didn’t feel like I was constantly doing more than my husband. I felt the strain but NEVER wanted to quit having a career, although I did take 3 to 6 months leave when all of my kids were babies. My husband was as helpful as he could be- always more during the months and years when he wasn’t trying to build his business. He always took kids to daycare in the morning, even stayed home with them for a while after the recession of 2008 when I was teaching and he had been injured at work. Now I realize that it was very difficult raising four kids.

Other countries have free or low cost day-care options. That would’ve really helped us out, especially during the time my husband was injured. Instead, we were forced to pay a great amount of our income to daycare for much of the time our children were young, which added even more strain on our marriage.

Throughout my life, I have felt bitter toward 1) women who don’t have children 2) women who have partners who do a lot at home 3) women who stay home. I don’t want to switch places with anyone else. I just wish my load was a bit lighter. Sometimes I realize that my drive for career success has been more of a curse than a blessing, but I wouldn’t change it. I just wish there was more support and understanding for the struggles and challenges working moms face every single day.
Profile Image for Akshara.
4 reviews
December 15, 2020
Within the space of gender economics/sociology, I struggle to name a book as current and comprehensive as The Second Shift. What I particularly liked about it was that it wasn't simply a neatly organized compilation of statistics, studies, and occasional historical references; this went a step further by opening some interesting (and, at times, upsetting) dialogue about the subjects' beliefs compared to their realities, and highlighting common instances of cognitive dissonance that affects relationships.

The Second Shift explores something most women already know or have experienced - although we are told we can have both a career and a family, we are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to sharing housework and child-rearing responsibilities, at least when it comes to heterosexual relationships. Although heterosexual dual-career couples were the primary focus in this book, it would be interesting to eventually see these studies extended out to same-sex dual-career couples, both with and without kids.

Some things that stuck out in this book:

- Rather than confronting the reality of their imbalanced relationships, an astounding amount of couples resorted to telling themselves varying "marriage myths" in order to keep the peace (disproportionately shifting labor distribution in favor of the men). Some of the anecdotes here were horrifying, and so was the finding that many marriages end in divorce rather than compromise when men are urged to contribute more equally to the household. Marriage currently benefits men more than it benefits women, and men also enjoy far better outcomes after divorce.

- Even in relationships that were more equally balanced, external forces (differing workplace expectations for men and women, societal norms around masculinity, and other cultural/social expectations) created significant tension.

- When it comes to embracing changing social norms, women have adapted at a much faster rate than men have.

A lot of this boils down to one question: why are men rarely part of the equation when discussing how the working woman can "have it all" even though it ultimately affects them negatively as well? The conversation is so centered around how individual women can work within the existing system and how they can cope with the increasing demands on their time and energy.

What we don't talk enough about the other side of the coin: 1) the biggest issue is that current system isn't built to support women who prefer to focus on their career, or men who prefer to stay at home (e.g. maternity leave laws, the pay gap, the leisure gap); 2) in order for women to manage both a fulfilling career and family life, men need to step up and take on a bigger role inside the home, especially since doing so directly benefits them and their family unit as a whole. Before we can do this, we need to change how we socialize these roles and make them less gender-specific to remove any associated stigma or pressure.

Without first addressing cultural attitudes towards what roles women and men should hold, any meaningful systemic change through legislation will likely be slow-moving and unsuccessful.
Profile Image for Weixiang.
180 reviews9 followers
July 11, 2019
On the distribution of the second shift, or work done at home such as home care, care of kids here are some stats that's been corrected in 2010s:
- Women at home work an extra 2 weeks doing house work a year.
- Husbands watches 2.7 hours TV a week rather than helping with wife.
- Moms with full time jobs laughed the less compared to other moms in this category let alone men.
- 5 moms, 1/3 dads said they are satisfied with what their kids are doing
- USA is 20th/21 countries on the quality of care that kids received from parents

This book is a must read for anyone who wishes to reproduce, or adopt. It's on the idea of the "Second Shift" which defines the work shift that appears after working a full time/part time job, when the parental figures gets home. Which for the majority of the families in the country are the mothers. As you can see by the very minut amount of data attached here, it's quite daunting and terrifying. Most of the work that happens at home, are from women. They essentially, when it comes to the people in the house, the unpaid matriarch of the house. Kids usually loves and respect the mother at home, yet yearning for their missing (presence wise)fathers. Largest reason for this level of separation of work happens, due to the current capitalist environment that our culture lives in. We over emphasize work, yet undervalue the power of governmental help like the Scandinavian countries, and in term, that hurts the kids who are raised and keeps perpetuating the  misogyny of women at home, in work, in culture. Excellent and easy read.
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