1 February 2022, 17 - 18.30 

From Dreams of the Overworked To Time Cascades for the Ideal Worker

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Christine Beckman

University of Southern California

Melissa Mazmanian

Melissa Mazmanian

University of California, Irvine

In their recently published book Dreams of the Overworked: Living, Working, and Parenting in the Digital Age, Christine Beckman and Melissa Mazmanian offer vivid sketches of daily life for nine families in Southern California, capturing what it means to live, work, and parent in a world of impossible expectations – expectations amplified by smart devices. In this book, the reader is invited into the homes and offices of these working professional in order to witness the crushing pressure of unraveling plans and celebrate how people—through a web of social “scaffolding”—support each other’s dreams. This book challenges the seductive myth of the individual with phone in hand, doing it all on their own. This ideal didn’t capture the reality of everyday life, even before the pandemic hit. In truth, beneath the veneer of technology is a complex, hidden system of support—our dreams have always been scaffolded by retired in-laws, friendly neighbors, spouses, schools, and paid help. This book makes the case for celebrating the structures that allow us to strive for our dreams by supporting public policies for caring work, challenging workplace norms, reexamining our use of technology, reimagining family and community, and valuing invisible work on the home front. In this talk, Christine and Melissa will provide an overview of the book with an emphasis on the ethnographic data collection. They will preview a working paper that examines how "time cascades" enable workers to respond to work demands that assume everyone should be an Ideal Worker.