Episode 125: You Can Make It Work: Working Parents in Britain with Sarah Stoller


Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.

"Every generation of historians is really just trying to understand their parents," my colleague Sarah Stoller tells me in his week's interview. And that's what we do--we go back to the 70s, 80s and 90s to learn about the history of working parents.

It’s not all shoulder pads and aerobics. People like our mothers started to pursue ambitious, professional careers in the 70s and 80s—and try to raise children at the same time. This required a new kind of negotiation with the workplace. How would working parents juggle their work lives and their home lives?

I’m going to jump to the spoiler in this description: what happened was that people had to do both. There was this assumption that people could make all of the demanding parts of their lives work together without any kind of sacrifice as long as they were organized and perfect. The onus was on the individual to find some kind of balance between work and life. NOT on employers to try to provide people with decent working conditions and real flexibility.

It’s a great conversation which has a lot of relevance for the spot where we are today. If you’re curious about why everyone is so stressed these days and worried about wellness, give this episode a listen.

Further Reading:

Hochschild, Arlie with Anne Machung. The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home. New York: Viking, 1989.

Hendrick, Harry. Narcissistic parenting in an insecure world: A History of Parenting Culture 1920s to Present. London: Policy Press, 2016.

McIvor, Arthur. Working Lives: Work in Britain Since 1945. London: MacMillan, 2013.

McCarthy, Helen. “Women, Marriage, and Paid Work in Post-War Britain.” Women’s History Review (2016): 1-16. (Word Doc)

Interview Series Megapost

Episode 124: Indian Dams, the World Bank, and Environmentalism with Varsha Venkatasubramanian