Collegiate Professor of Arts & Science |
Professor of Sociology | New York University

Books By Kathleen

The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family

 

In the controversial public debate over modern American families, the vast changes in family life – the rise of single, two-paycheck , and same-sex parents – have often been blamed for declining morality and unhappy children. Drawing upon pioneering research with the children of the gender revolution, The Unfinished Revolution reveals that it is not a lack of "family values," but rigid social and economic forces that make it difficult to have a vibrant and committed family and work life.

Despite the entrance of women into the workforce and the blurring of once clearly defined gender boundaries, men and women live in a world where the demands of managing parenting and work, autonomy and commitment, time and money are left largely unresolved. The Unfinished Revolution finds that while an overwhelming majority of young men and women see an egalitarian balance within committed relationships as the ideal, today's social and economic realities remain based on conventional – and now obsolete – distinctions between breadwinning and caretaking. In this equity vacuum, men and women develop conflicting strategies, with women stressing self-reliance and men seeking a new traditionalism. 

With compassion for all perspectives, The Unfinished Revolution argues that whether one decides to give in to traditionally gender-divided relationships or to avoid marriage altogether, these approaches are second-best responses, not personal preferences or inherent attributes, and they will shift if new options can be created to help people achieve their egalitarian aspirations.

The Unfinished Revolution offers clear recommendations for the kinds of workplace and community changes that would best bring about a more egalitarian family life – a new flexibility at work and at home that benefits families, encourages a thriving economy, and helps women and men integrate love and work

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The Unfinished Revolution is a meticulously researched and creative masterpiece.
— Work and Occupations
A new powerful account of how children of the gender revolution are reshaping family, work and gender in America.... Gerson revolutionizes a stale debate looking at family changes in an unconventional way.... A very fascinating book.
— Sociologica
Kathleen Gerson’s Unfinished Revolution marks a major conceptual advance by depicting families as pathways, rather than static structural forms.
— Contemporary Sociology
 
 

 
 

Other Books by Kathleen


The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality

In a panoramic study that draws on diverse sources, The Time Divide explains why and how time pressures have emerged in contemporary life and what we can do to alleviate them. In contrast to the conventional wisdom that all Americans are overworked, it shows that time itself has become a form of social inequality that is dividing Americans in new ways – between the overworked and the underemployed, women and men, parents and non-parents. It details the increasing mismatch between our economic system and the needs of American families.  Finally, it makes the case for a new set of family-supportive, gender-equitable policies that offer American workers new ways to integrate work and family life.

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Jacobs and Gerson present the most fine-grained analysis yet offered of working time and its impacts on families. They successfully combine sophisticated analyses of quantitative data with breakthroughs in the conceptualization of work time...As a result of their nuanced treatment, they avoid making simplistic generalizations that have marked many previous treatments of this topic.
— Rosalind Chait Barnett, Brandeis University

No Man’s Land: Men’s Changing Commitments to Family and Work

What does it mean to be a man in a world where women are almost as likely as men to shoulder the responsibilities of supporting a family? Why do some men still choose to be traditional breadwinners while others flee the responsibilities of parenthood altogether, and still others become infinitely more involved in family life than earlier generations of men? Here’s a look at the possibilities and limits for gender equality as men cope with the gender revolution.

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Why do some men hold on to the breadwinner ethic, while others flee the responsibilities of parenthood and still others involve themselves in family life more than men in earlier generations?” asks Gerson, who explored the question by interviewing men in their 30s and 40s. Their responses leave no doubt that these men, even the married, reject the breadwinner role, are listless on the subject of marriage, remarriage, and children, and feel ambivalent about male dominance. Nevertheless, some of them want to be king of the castle and seek women who allow them to “rule.” Yet another group wants equalitarian relationships and wishes to stay home with their children. Gerson does not judge their reactions. Rather, she views the shifts in men’s role as a function of a changing economy and of the move of women into the workplace. The diversity in male roles will continue, she predicts in this revealing study, and society with it.
— Publishers Weekly

Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career, and Motherhood

How do women trade off between work and family commitments? And what are the causes, limits, and consequences of the "subtle revolution" in women's choices over the 1960s and 1970s? To answer these questions, Hard Choices analyzes the experiences of a carefully selected group of middle-class and working-class women who were young adults in the 1970s. Their informative life histories reveal the emerging social forces in American society, where work-family conflicts and “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” options have led today's women to face a host of difficult choices.

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A scrupulously objective study of the way women make decisions about work . . . refreshing because she focuses on women as social actors, constructing their lives in response to a range of opportunities and restraints.
— Psychology Today
The best book I have come across on women and work”
— New York Review of Books