Crunch Time
A review of

Crunch Time

How Married Couples Confront Unemployment

Aliya Hamid RaoUC Press • 2020

Marriage During Precarity

by David Meyer

Sociologist Alia Hamid Rao offers an insightful, telling study of how unemployed, well-off American couples revert to traditional gender roles under the strain of unemployment.

How do couples contend with a job loss? Aliya Hamid Rao, an assistant professor in the Department of Methodology at the London School of Economics, focuses on a neglected area of research: how unemployment affects affluent – or previously affluent – families. Some 92% of white-collar workers will face job loss at some point, Rao writes. When that occurs, she has learned, affluent Americans worry less about falling into poverty than about losing social status.

This fear leads many couples to cling to an obsolete vision of American life; rather than regarding joblessness as an opportunity for families to rearrange their dynamics, Rao finds unemployment reinforces unhealthy, unproductive and dated gender stereotypes and inequalities.

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