Kathleen Gerson – presentation

Intimate Commitment in the New Economy: How Rising Uncertainties in Jobs and Relationships Are Reshaping Strategies for Work and Care 

The growth of the new economy has undermined stable job trajectories and permanent marriages, which once provided the central rationales for building intimate commitment around a gendered division of work and care. Yet, like most post-industrial nations, gender neutral pathways for integrating earning a living with caring for others have not emerged in the United States. Instead, despite the growing desire for flexibility and equality, contemporary Americans face intensifying conflicts between work and care. How have rising workplace insecurities influenced views on intimate commitment, and how has the rise of fluid relationships influenced decisions about work? What are the implications for gender – and class – inequality? And what are the possibilities for creating more egalitarian options in both intimate and public life? Drawing on interviews with a broad cross-section of adults residing in U.S. metropolitan areas with plentiful high tech and other new economy jobs, I will present a framework for understanding the diverse work-care strategies now emerging as new generations respond to the collapse of the “breadwinner-caregiver gender bargain.”

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