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In the 1970s and 1980s, studies of the unpaid household and family labor of upper-class women linked this labor to class reproduction. In recent years, however, the topic…
In the 1970s and 1980s, studies of the unpaid household and family labor of upper-class women linked this labor to class reproduction. In recent years, however, the topic of class has dropped out of analyses of unpaid labor, and such labor has been ignored in recent studies of elites. In this chapter, drawing primarily on 18 in-depth interviews with wealthy New York stay-at-home mothers, we look at what elite women’s unpaid labor consists of, highlighting previously untheorized consumption and lifestyle work; ask what it reproduces; and analyze how women themselves interpret and represent it. In the current historical moment, elite women face not only the cultural expectation that they will work for pay, but also the prominence of meritocracy as a mechanism of class legitimation in a diversified upper class. In this context, we argue, elite women’s unpaid labor serves to reproduce “meritocratic” dispositions of children rather than closed, homogenous elite communities, as identified in previous studies. Our respondents struggle to frame their activities as legitimate and productive work. In doing so, they not only resist longstanding stereotypes of “ladies who lunch” but also seek to justify and normalize their own class privileges, thus reproducing the same hegemonic discourses of work and worth that stigmatize their unpaid work.
This qualitative analysis of interviews with over 100 executives studies the boundaries excluding most women from the most lucrative and powerful jobs in the financial…
This qualitative analysis of interviews with over 100 executives studies the boundaries excluding most women from the most lucrative and powerful jobs in the financial services industry. This chapter examines the roles of technical knowledge and social capital in the highest levels in financial services firms. Although technical expertise is necessary for reaching midlevels, promotion to the highest levels requires that the executive can cultivate interfirm business networks to generate business, or make rain. The networks are male-dominated; women face particular challenges in permeating these networks and making them pay. To elicit men's trust and to get their business, unusually successful female executives adopt stereotyped, sexualized strategies that help their individual careers yet also reinforce the symbolic boundary excluding most women from top positions in financial services. The chapter also examines changes in these strategies over time. Compared to the stereotyped roles for female managers Kanter identified over 20 years ago, stereotypes of successful women today may be loosening, allowing female finance executives a bit more freedom in how they establish business relationships.
This paper aims to, by drawing on two decades of field work on Wall Street, explore the recent evolution in the gendering of Wall Street, as well as the potential effects…
This paper aims to, by drawing on two decades of field work on Wall Street, explore the recent evolution in the gendering of Wall Street, as well as the potential effects – including the reproduction of financiers’ power – of that evolution. The 2008 financial crisis was depicted in strikingly gendered terms – with many commentators articulating a divide between masculine, greedy, risk-taking behavior and feminine, conservative, risk-averse approaches for healing the crisis. For a time, academics, journalists and women on Wall Street appeared to be in agreement in identifying women’s feminine styles as uniquely suited to lead – even repair – the economic debacle.
The article is based on historical research, in-depth interviews and fieldwork with the first generation of Wall Street women from the 1970s up until 2013.
In this article, it is argued that the preoccupation in feminine styles of leadership in finance primarily reproduces the power of white global financial elites rather than changes the culture of Wall Street or breaks down existent structures of power and inequality.
The research focuses primarily on the ways American global financial elites maintain power, and does not examine the ways in which the power of other international elites working in finance is reproduced in a similar or different manner.
The findings of the article provide practical implications for understanding the gendering of financial policy making and how that gendering maintains or reproduces the economic system.
The paper provides an understanding of how the gendered rhertoric of the financial crisis maintains not only the economic power of global financial elites in finance but also their social and cultural power.
The paper is based on original, unique, historical ethnographic research on the first generation of women on Wall Street.
In their recent book, Dead Man Working, Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming paint a haunting picture of the contemporary employee: sleep deprived and overworked, exhausted and strung out, unable to tell where work ends and where life begins, hardly alive and yet unable to die. In this paper, the author widens the picture by examining the systemic effects of contemporary work on the family. Drawing upon ideas from psychoanalysis and critical theory, the author reveals how the extraction of life by work reverberates across generations and seeps into the home environment. The author also reveals how new constellations of family reinforce deadening work. What emerges is a family portrait known as the “dead family working.”
This study examines liberal second-wave feminists’ writings about cooking. Most scholarship of liberal feminism has focused on the attempts to integrate women into…
This study examines liberal second-wave feminists’ writings about cooking. Most scholarship of liberal feminism has focused on the attempts to integrate women into previously male-dominated public spaces such as higher education, the professions, and political office. Less attention has been paid to how these feminists politicized feminized spaces such as the home. A longstanding tension between the housewife role and feminist identities has led many to theorize that feminists avoid or resent domestic tasks. However, I argue that some liberal feminists in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s suggested engaging with cooking in subversive ways that challenged patriarchal institutions and supported their political goals.
I analyze 148 articles about cooking in Ms. magazine between 1972 and 1985. I also analyze the copy and recipes within four community cookbooks published by liberal feminist organizations.
I find that liberal feminists suggested utilizing time- and labor-saving cooking methods, encouraged men to cook, and proposed that women make money from cooking. These three techniques challenged the traditional division of domestic labor, supported women’s involvement in the paid workplace, and increased women’s control of economic resources.
This study turns the opposition between feminism and feminized tasks on its head, showing that rather than avoiding cooking, some liberal feminists proposed ways of cooking that challenged patriarchal institutions. I show how subordinate populations can develop ways of subversively engaging with tasks that are typically seen as oppressive, using them in an attempt to advance their social position.
This chapter investigates how normative beliefs attributed to insecure paid work and care responsibilities affect social understandings of the work–family boundary, and…
This chapter investigates how normative beliefs attributed to insecure paid work and care responsibilities affect social understandings of the work–family boundary, and either challenge or reinforce traditional links between gender and moral obligation.
Within an interpretive approach and from a gender perspective, I present a discourse analysis of 41 interviews with Italian parents.
This chapter shows that women in the sample felt forced into blurred boundaries that did not suit their work–family normative beliefs. Men in the sample perceived that they had more boundary control, and they created boundaries that support an innovative fatherhood model. Unlike women, men’s boundaries aligned with their desires.
The specific target of respondents prevents empirical comparisons between social classes. Moreover, the cross-level analysis presented is limited: in particular, further investigation is required at the level of organizational cultures.
The study suggests not only thinking in terms of work–family boundary segmentation and integration but also looking at the normative dimensions which can either enhance or exacerbate perceptions of the work–family interface. The value of the study also stems from its theoretically relevant target.
This chapter revisits a debate about the relationship between work and family and the conditions under which workers believe their jobs in the new economy offer an escape…
This chapter revisits a debate about the relationship between work and family and the conditions under which workers believe their jobs in the new economy offer an escape from families.
In contrast to prior research, the chapter uses multiple methods, including a random sample survey, intensive interviews with 221 respondents, and 615 hours of observations at eight sites in the health care sector.
The chapter shows that low-wage women nursing assistants – more than those in other health care occupations – develop strong connections to coworkers and patients whom they come to talk about as “family.” It finds that more than doctors, nurses, or EMTs, the CNAs seek an escape from home and a pull to people at work not only because they develop strong relations on the job and have more inclusive notions of family, but also because they face more difficulties at home. These difficulties at home are created in part by the unpredictable schedules and low wages offered by their jobs. These make home life more difficult, which paradoxically leads them to turn to their jobs.
The analysis and findings show the ongoing power of unequal social relations – organized around class and gender and their intersection – in shaping the recursive relationship of jobs and families.