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Caring and Doing for Others: Social Responsibility in the Domains of Family, Work, and Community (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Mental Health and De) 1st Edition

ISBN-13: 978-0226728728
ISBN-10: 0226728722
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

From all sides we hear that Americans are becoming increasingly self-absorbed and disconnected, and that their social and civic responsibility is on the decline. A more encouraging profile emerges in this study, which emphasizes the domains of life in which we spend most of our time-work, family, kin, friends, and home care. The book is based on a national, representative survey of more than 3,000 Americans aged 25 to 74, supplemented by intensive interviews with Blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans in New York City, an eight-day time budget study of daily experiences of contact and giving to others, and in-depth interviews on what social responsibility means in their lives.

The book explores in detail the extent to which adults contribute time to caregiving and social support, and the extent of their financial assistance to members of their families; the time given to volunteer work; and financial contributions to a variety of causes, charities, and organizations. The authors also examine how these contributions are affected by the time and effort required by job obligations, and they find that to the extent they are able, adults do provide emotional and social support, and even hands-on caregiving and financial help, to family and friends.

A major focus of the study is on age and gender differences, and midlife proves to be a watershed time of transition when civic activities increase as family obligations decline. For example, felt obligations to family members and to jobs decrease with age, while volunteer service increases with age. Less-educated adults give more of their time; better-educated adults give more money. Also, women give more time, and men more money when the sexes are compared. Between generations, social and emotional support is reciprocal, but reflecting the greatly improved finances of today's elderly, money flows largely from the elderly to the younger members of a family.

Americans work longer hours with shorter vacations than adults in any other Western society, and their labor combined with the taxes they pay are critical contributions to the larger society. And although Americans may have more fragile marriages and bear fewer children than ever, the ties between grandparents, parents, and children remain strong across our expanded life spans. All told, this important study adds a hopeful new voice to the overwhelmingly negative debate about the current state of our civic and social lives.

About the Author

Alice S. Rossi, editor of the volume and author of six of the thirteen chapters, is the Harriet Martineau Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a past president of the American Sociological Association and the author of many books, including Sexuality across the Life Course, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Both she and the contributing authors were members or associates of the Research Network on Successful Midlife Development, a network supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
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Caring and Doing for Others: Social Responsibility in the Domains of Family, Work, and Community (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Mental Health and De)
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