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Starting in Our Own Backyards: How Working Families Can Build Community and Survive the New Economy

ISBN-13: 000-0415935881
ISBN-10: 0855983965
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"The clarity and realism of this book makes it an excellent addition to the work-family literature."

-- Anthropology of Work Review, Vol. XXVIII, No. 3

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Starting in Our Own Backyards: How Working Families Can Build Community and Survive the New Economy
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