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Elsewhere, U.S.A: How We Got from the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms,and Economic Anxiety
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Elsewhere, U.S.A: How We Got from the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms,and Economic Anxiety

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  225 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Over the past three decades, our daily lives have changed slowly but dramatically. Boundaries between leisure and work, public space and private space, and home and office have blurred and become permeable. In Elsewhere, U.S.A., acclaimed sociologist Dalton Conley connects our day-to-day experiences with occasionally overlooked sociological changes, from women’s increasing ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Vintage (first published December 27th 2008)
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Jan 15, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Conley sets forth to explain a cultural phenomenon in the US in which people are increasingly disconnected, despite all the advances in communications technology. At least, I thought that’s what this was going to be about. Actually, it feels more like some kind of disorganized rip-off of “Freakonomics,” only not as well written. Conley often attempts to make an objective statement, only to follow it with one that leans heavily left or right (making BOTH left- and right-leaning comments does not ...more
As much economic treatise and discussion of new technology as the sociological study it purports to be but an still a mostly interesting synopsis of how American (largely) society “progressed” from 1959’s loyal, focused, striving Organization Man to 2009’s disloyal, distracted (the Elsewhere in the title refers to the constant mental splitting of attention) and far more driven corporate man and woman. Late in the book Conley says he largely tried to avoid predictions and judgments but clearly th ...more
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Along the lines of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point, but much more intellectual (and probably not quite as entertaining), I still thoroughly enjoyed Conley's social commentary on where we've been and what we're becoming. Most of his discussion is just that, commentary, so if you're looking for lots of statistics on what he posits, you won't find it here. Still, though, I did like his thoughts, and the socio-economic perspective. Hard to recommend, as his writing is a bit on the dry side. But i ...more
Conley is obviously a superstar and a great writer, but this book - at times - felt like a well-written analysis of research over the past fifty years without any unifying narrative holding the book together. I never got a crystal clear sense of what Elsewhere, USA is. He made serveral great points, though I think he missed out linking them to a central thesis.
Feb 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting Elsewhere, U.S.A. to be a diatribe railing against the modern world's tendency towards cell phones, virtual networking, and the shift away from "traditional" family mealtimes and the like. Instead, it was an even-handed look at the forces that have caused this shift and what it means for our country. Well-written and interesting.
Christine Cavalier
Hear ye, you wordsmiths of the web, you purveyors of pages, you iterators of information: Welcome to Elsewhere, U.S.A., a state of mind in which you are constantly moving; You are slinging nothing but ideas and giving up your leisure time to do it; You are working from home but are always available to the company via your Blackberry (which you are using to schedule your babysitters and manage your children); You hold the fear of the layoff or of lost earnings if you dare close your laptop long e ...more
Jun 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elsewhere, U.S.A. initially comes off as a more comprehensive update to Georg Simmel’s The Metropolis and Mental Life where Mr. and Mrs. 2009’s exposure to the unwieldy onslaught of emails, soccer practices, and complex-professional demands tends to increasingly fragment any clear notion of the individual (or the inner, private self). Whereas I’ve always read Simmel’s 1903 ode in hindsight as far too hyperbolic, Conley’s text does an admirable job of presenting many of these issues in a comprehe ...more
Alberto Lopez
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is packed with interesting bits of information about the road that took us as society from the old hydrocarbon version to the modern multitasking one. It merges several sociological views into a single fluid concept.
Although I am not quite halfway through with this book, there are a number of issues that are apparent so far. The social and economic status of the author is evident, and strongly influences the philosophy through which he evaluates American society. In one example used to illustrate the supposed "reversal" of the traditional social order, the author discusses a nanny "scolding" the parents/employers in their treatment of their children. This is an obviously privileged point of view, as the lik ...more
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book on socioeconomics that I’ve read this year and in my shortlist for best overall of 2009. If Soros addressed the current economic world at systemic and financial levels, Conley does so at the sociological and technological. The Internet, Blackberries, social networking, knowledge work replacing the creation of stuff, working at home, the upward spiral of education, earnings and status, equal earners, raising kids, how people can feel more fragmented despite greater connected ...more
May 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elsewhere U.S.A. is a sociological inspection of recent trends in the worls of work, technology, and family and interpersonal life in the United States, particularly for people from upper and upper-middle classes.

Conley is an engaging and accessible writer, and he is able to introduce fundamental sociological concepts from the classics (Marx, Weber, Durkheim) in straightforward language and with simple metaphors and examples.

He develops new sociological concepts that are worth noting and thinkin
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I want to like this book--from the descriptions it seems that it describes my lifestyle pretty well. But 50 pages in, I'm not liking it much at all. Sorry, but using the word "paradigm" several times on the very first page is not a way to hook readers. Right now it's reading as a mildly interesting book appearing on a course syllabus, which I can only read a few pages at a time without falling asleep. The author IS a professor, which could be why it has that feel. It's short on actual examples o ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

A busy professional with an equally busy spouse -- he is Chair of New York University's Sociology Department; his wife is experimental designer Natalie Jeremijenko -- Dalton Conley lives the multiple lives he describes. Most critics think he has honed a forward-looking book that successfully combines personal anecdote and hard science. Even if his ideas are not cutting-edge, he is a "lively if sometimes overheated writer" (New York Times Book Review) who presents a snapshot of our times that som

Jason Paul McCartan
Overall an interesting book that tends to meander while making and linking observations and arguments. While there are a lot of citations, there's a great deal of positions taken and arguments made that argue correlation rather than causation. Unfortunately, there's not a great deal of data shared to back up claims that the author makes. The author also is writing to and about a specific audience (middle and upper classes) and has obvious bias and privilege that shows when making certain stateme ...more
Feb 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sociologist's perspective of how we Americans have evolved from 1950's to present day, including the influence of technology and women in the workplace. The author also talks about the concepts of happiness, satisfaction, stress, and consumerism, and how these things tend to drive the working 24/7 mentality that is prevalent in our culture and society today.

One of my life goals is to "work to live, don't live to work". And apparently my choosing to bypass the fast track (or, to take it at a m
Jul 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huzzah! I finished reading a book! Someone recommended this to me, but I don't know who. It was on my phone as a note, and I just so happened to be perusing a used book store, and voila! There it was!

Two things that stick out. There are a lot of cliché phrases and he uses "Begs the question" incorrectly.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of cool and interesting things in this book but that's what sticks out in my mind.

His theories are sound too, the only thing is, it sounds like he is talking
I picked up and read this one as it is about one of the subjects I am interested in. I enjoyed it, but can't say that I really learned anything from it.... He talks about "weisure" where we are working during our leisure time by being tied to our blackberries, etc. Times sure have changed since the 1950's, but since I have lived through these changes, I was already aware of the vast majority of them. Didn't even find new insight into these issues. That being said, I still found that it was easy ...more
Aug 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: capitalism
This is a pretty simple analysis of how modern capitalism functions: increased reliance on technology, precarity, lack of distinction between work and leisure, etc. The author focuses primarily on those in the higher income brackets (his own class bracket) where he says inequality and uncertainty are growing the fastest. While that argument isn't entirely convincing, some of the points he makes can be used to approach the economy more generally. Much of what he says has been said elsewhere in mo ...more
Feb 22, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-want
Quotes from danah boyd's review (

"This constant fear of being exposed, cut out, or outsourced, and thereby having one's 'capital' rendered valueless, is the principal pathos of the era."

"Whereas in the industrial epoch, the ability to cloister oneself off from the hoi polloi was a mark of power; in the post-industrial, networked economy, being surrounded by as many people as possible, all seeking your attention, is the ultimate manifestation of rank."

Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Clare by: Business Week
I was hoping to learn something new about Elsewhere, USA. Instead, the book was a review of facts that I learned in my college business and communication classes and he held up a mirror to show a reflection of my life. I didn't need a book to show me how stretched-thin I am (raising 4 kids, age 5 and under, running my own book of business, various volunteer work & clubs I'm in, etc.)

If you are one of my neighbors in Elsewhere, USA, then you probably have more valuable ways to spend your time
May 13, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book so much that I kept reading so I could find more things to hate about it. It's like an all-you-can-eat stereotype buffet. It opens with an absurd caricature of an urban professional as if Conley's ability to dream it up somehow proves his point. This becomes a habit, in which he simply makes huge assumptions and then works off of them without bothering to justify them. The only observations that I didn't hate were the completely obvious and unoriginal ones. I don't know why I d ...more
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was supposed to read this as a book report for my intro to sociology class, but then I never did the report. oops. I did, however, read it. It's alright, as far as academic books go (and I tend to enjoy randomly informing myself about things), but the author kind of struck me as the type of person to wear a tinfoil hat. He seemed really uncomfortable with the broadening of technology/connections despite his/his wife's job depending on them. I don't was kind of annoying.
Faisal Ghadially
Lucid explanation of the dichotomy the modern human faces in trying to be an individual while be being overly networked. The concept of an "intravidual" as someone who has multiple selves/personsa and the stress that it brings is explained.

The book is spot-on in terms of its examples (Teaching kids Mandarin, working on Webkinz, home-office). The book does not provide answers, but does go miles in explaining many of things we take for granted. (Why do we clean up after ourselves at KFC ?)
Jan 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, marti
Lots of interesting points from sociology perspective. The book flowed well, but also had a greater density of ideas then say Freakonomics. I felt like a was attending an engaging lecture series.

Outsourcing child raising, housekeeping, lawn care. Remaining plugged in 24/7. Fragmentation. Modern class relations. Lack of seperation between work and leisure.

Interesting to contemplate societies trends, and my place in them.
Melissa Cavanaugh
This was OK, and put a lot of data into an interesting context. I felt it was lacking in the author's understanding of the pressures of the corporate world he's describing. Unlike Barbara Ehrenreich, who really immerses herself in the issues she writes about, Conley came to this as an outsider and came off that way throughout.
Interesting and interested in a pretty small slice of the population; I'd have liked it better if he didn't seem to be in favor of child trafficking in the last chapter. That seemed rather thoughtlessly Malthusian/Dickensian.
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intelligent and well-researched, I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in why we are where we are at currently in regards to the 24-hour work cycle, which I personally desperately try to get away from. An excellent book.
Easy read- and interesting read as well about how we live and how the public/private lives we lead are blurred. Didn't know he was also the author of "Honky" which is a book I received about 6 years ago and haven't read yet! Will be digging it out of storage to check it out.
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy comparing social/culture changes between generations and this book definitely outlines how much faster our world has changed in the last 50 years, and whether or not we can call that progress?
Very interesting analysis of American culture in the internet/Blackberry/e-mail era. The author traces the history of many current social trends (two wage homes, higher divorce rates (aka polygamy), home offices, tax inequity, earning disparity) to the rise of modern technology.
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