Cover image for Starting in our own backyards : how working families can build community and survive the new economy
Starting in our own backyards : how working families can build community and survive the new economy
Bookman, Ann, 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, 2004.
Physical Description:
xiii, 306 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
New terrain for work and family : making the community connection -- How friendly is the family-friendly workplace? : a look at the biotech industry -- All in the family : it's not a private affair -- Community as a starting point : place and participation -- More than roads and bridges -- Childcare and other building blocks of civil society -- The PTA is not the problem -- Not by bread alone -- The trials of a full-time working mom : or how I became a part-time worker and a part-time community activist -- From backyards to corporate boardrooms and beyond : all stakeholders welcome -- The call of community : vocation and avocation.
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
HD4904.25 .B66 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Containing interviews with more than 100 middle-class working parents in the Boston area, Bookman vividly illustrates the inherent conflicts faced by today's two-working-parent families and the often unfortunate consequences for the community. In an important departure from the ongoing debate, she offers a new paradigm for the relationship between paid and unpaid work that could invigorate both family life and the quality of civil society.

Author Notes

Ann Bookman is Executive Director of the MIT Workplace Center. She is a social anthropologist and author of a number of publications on women's work, work and family issues, unionization, and family policy. Bookman has held a variety of teaching and research positions and has also worked in government. As a presidential appointee during the first term of the Clinton administration, she served as Policy and Research Director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor, and as Executive Director of the bipartisan Commission on Family and Medical Leave. She is co-editor of Women and the Politics ofEmpowerment.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The working parents (especially mothers) championed in this fervent but somewhat plodding communitarian manifesto face the usual "work-life balance" crises: a lack of day-care and after-school programs, the three o'clock scramble to get the kids picked up after class, rigid work schedules that preclude caring for sick children, and long hours and commutes that leave little time or energy for anything else. The silver lining, according to social anthropologist Bookman (Children, Families and Women's Work) is that informal networks of relatives, non-profit social agencies, churches and mutually supportive parents that address these "family care" issues constitute the basis of a revitalized community life. She draws on field studies with Boston-area biotech workers and reams of social-science scholarship to illuminate the strategies working parents use to cope, and urges that the symbiosis between families and the larger community be reinforced through innovations like flexible work schedules and time off for community volunteering. Bookman's reverence for parental involvement can be overly credulous; much is made about working moms' often thwarted desires to volunteer in their children's classrooms. And while the problems she identifies are real, she shies away from the kind of broad federal programs-free public day-care centers and after-school programs, for example-that might solve them at a stroke. Instead she embraces a plethora of small-scale initiatives, involving a maze of ad-hoc "partnerships" between businesses, unions, churches, non-profits, state and local governments and "grassroots" parent activists, which are almost as exhausting to read about as they would be to implement. Bookman's project is admirable, but her prescription for localism and voluntarism might actually dissipate some of the reforming impulses she wants to empower. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Choice Review

How can life be improved for working families? Literature describes accommodations developed by individuals, offered by employers, and mandated by law. Bookman (executive director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Workplace Center) adds "community" to the list. She considers work-family issues and civil society issues together, believing that both need to be addressed to strengthen society. In her scenario, strong communities can support families, and strong families can provide volunteers to support communities. She studied the lives of 40 middle-class families (including single parent) for almost five years and learned how each family addressed its needs. The stories show that community resources are valuable when individual initiative, employer policies, and legislation fail to meet work-family needs. Also presented are thoughtful discussions of many cultural and economic topics related to these issues, such as gender division of household tasks, relation of paid and unpaid work, business responsibility for social issues, and changes in community structures. By adding the role of community, Bookman enriches the study of work-family issues. This may not be the time to expect business and government support for her view; however, it may be a good time to foster debate. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Public and academic library collections, upper-division undergraduate through faculty. F. Reitman emerita, Pace University

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Engine That Could
Part 1 Work, Family and Community in the New Economy
1 New Terrain for Work and Family: Making the Community Connection
2 How Friendly Is the Family-Friendly Workplace? A Look at the Biotech Industry
3 All In the Family: It's not a Private Affair
4 Community As A Starting Point: Place and Participation
Part 2 From Family Connections to Community Involvement
5 More Than Roads and Bridges
6 Childcare and Other Building Blocks of Civil Society
7 The PTA Is Not The Problem
8 Not By Bread Alone
9 The Trials of a Full-time Working Mom: or How I Became a Part-time Worker and a Part-time Community Activist
Part 3 Investing in Community: Everybody's Business
10 From Backyards to Corporate Boardrooms and Beyond: All Stakeholders Welcome
11 The Call of Community: Vocation and Avocation
Appendix 1 Methodology
Appendix 2 The Family Friendly Community Index