Fast-Forward Family: Home, Work, and Relationships in Middle-Class America

Fast-Forward Family: Home, Work, and Relationships in Middle-Class America

Fast-Forward Family: Home, Work, and Relationships in Middle-Class America

Fast-Forward Family: Home, Work, and Relationships in Middle-Class America

Synopsis

Called "the most unusually voyeuristic anthropology study ever conducted" by the New York Times, this groundbreaking book provides an unprecedented glimpse into modern-day American families. In a study by the UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives and Families, researchers tracked the daily lives of 32 dualworker middle class Los Angeles families between 2001 and 2004. The results are startling, and enlightening. Fast-Forward Family shines light on a variety of issues that face American families: the differing stress levels among parents; the problem of excessive clutter in the American home; the importance (and decline) of the family meal; the vanishing boundaries that once separated work and home life; and the challenges for parents as they try to reconcile ideals regarding what it means to be a good parent, a good worker, and a good spouse. Though there are also moments of connection, affection, and care, it's evident that life for 21st century working parents is frenetic, with extended work hours, children's activities, chores, meals to prepare, errands to run, and bills to pay.

Excerpt

Elinor Ochs and Tamar Kremer-Sadlik

In Spring 2000 Kathleen Christensen, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, traveled to Los Angeles on business. On a Friday afternoon, before returning to the airport, she called Elinor’s home number to see if she could stop by. Elinor was at ucla, and her husband, Sandro, took the call. On arriving at home Elinor was surprised to see a town car parked in front of the house and then to find Kathleen in the living room chatting with Sandro about Sloan endeavors. Kathleen’s impromptu visit was occasioned by an exciting research project on American dual-earner middle-class families. the Sloan Foundation had launched a program to investigate the exigencies of raising a family while managing a paid job so that workplaces could better meet the needs of working families. Would Elinor be interested in joining this effort by designing and directing a research project dedicated to this end? Kathleen asked. Thus the ucla Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) began.

For months on end a team of ucla scholars from diverse disciplines gathered to design a study of family life unlike any conducted previously. Anthropologists, who had traveled to faraway field sites, retooled their ethnographic methods for the “natives” of urban Los Angeles. Archaeologists, used to uncovering the material remains of past societies, turned their excavation skills to unearthing the avalanche of possessions filling contemporary American middle-class homes and to deciphering how homes are inhabited as lived spaces. Clinical psychologists, used to analyzing how people behave inside laboratories in short periods of time, developed ways to analyze stress, emotions, and family relationships over days in the midst of chaotic life at home, in the car, and in all sorts of community settings. and education specialists, who had a good sense of teaching and learning in all sorts of classrooms, sought . . .

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