The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity

Hardcover | March 31, 2015

byAllison J. Pugh

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We live in a tumbleweed society, where job insecurity is rampant and widely seen as inevitable. Companies are transforming the way they organize work. While new working conditions offer gains for some workers, others lose out. Many have pointed out what these changes mean at work. Yet whywould they affect us only in the workplace? In The Tumbleweed Society, sociologist Allison Pugh examines the broader impacts of job precariousness, on our approach to work, our notions of what counts as honorable behavior, and our relations with the people we love.Pugh examines the ways we navigate questions of obligation and flexibility at work and at home in a society where insecurity has become the norm. Drawing on 80 in-depth interviews with three groups of parents who vary in their experiences of job insecurity and their relative advantage, she exploreshow people are adapting to the new culture of insecurity and the effect of these adaptations on our willingness to commit, to care, to shoulder the burdens of other people's need.Faced with perpetual insecurity both at work and at home, people construct stronger walls between the two, expecting little or nothing from their jobs and placing nearly all of their expectations for fulfilling connections on their intimate relationships. This trend, Pugh argues, often has theeffect of making intimate lives even more fraught, reproducing the very insecurity they seek to check. Pugh shows that gender and social class filter our experiences of precariousness at work, shaping the way we talk about obligations, how we interpret them as commitments we will or will not takeon, and how we conceive of what we owe each other--indeed, how we are able to weave the fabric of our connected lives.

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We live in a tumbleweed society, where job insecurity is rampant and widely seen as inevitable. Companies are transforming the way they organize work. While new working conditions offer gains for some workers, others lose out. Many have pointed out what these changes mean at work. Yet whywould they affect us only in the workplace? In ...

Allison J. Pugh is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia. Her book Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture won the William J. Goode Book Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Sociology of the Family, and the Distinguished Contribution Award from the ASA Section on Ch...

other books by Allison J. Pugh

Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:March 31, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199957711

ISBN - 13:9780199957712

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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgements1. The Tumbleweed Society: An Introduction2. The One-Way Honor System and the Moral Wall: Expectations at Work3. The Right Way to Feel: Nostalgia, Acquiescence and Anger at Work4. Cooling, Sacralizing, and Getting Real: Regimes of Obligation5. Jokes, Emotional Labor and Detachment Brokers: Strategies of Distance and Commitment6. Bad Mothers, Optional Fathers: Children, Need and Care in Insecurity Culture7. Commitment Heroism: Need, Care and Gender in Desperate Times8. To Raise a Flexible Child: Childrearing in Insecurity Culture9. Conclusion: The Inner Landscape of InsecurityReferencesNotesIndex