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Attaining adulthood

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 10, 2015

One of the deep, long-term changes in American lives has been what social historians call the “standardization” of the life course. From the 19th into the 20th century, increasingly more young Americans were able to follow a common sequence: get educated, get a job, leave parents’ home, get married, have children, and become financially secure … Continue reading »

Work hours and the pay gap

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 10, 2014

Twenty-five years ago, Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild coined the phrase “stalled revolution” to describe how far American women had come since the 1950s. What she meant (in my reading) is that, although gender relations in America, from workplace to bedroom, had changed radically, the pace of change had slowed tremendously. The quicksand that bogged the … Continue reading »

How grateful are Americans?

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | January 11, 2013

Americans are very grateful and they think gratitude is important—they’re just not very good at expressing it. That’s one of the conclusions from a national survey on gratitude commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation, which also funds the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center’s gratitude project. We’ve stressed the importance of gratitude for years, as … Continue reading »

Spinsters no more

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 29, 2011

Among the familiar characters in 19th century novels are the spinsters – the “spinster aunts” who lived with a brother or sister’s family; also the “spinster daughters” who stayed home with their elderly parent(s). These characters seem to have decamped from modern fiction. No wonder, there are a lot fewer of them in modern life. To … Continue reading »

Missing tramps

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 24, 2011

One image of the Great Depression was of the tramps, the hobos drifting from town to town. Folk singer Woody Guthrie sang many a lyric on the theme, such as “the highway that’s our home / It’s a never-ending highway / For a dust bowl refugee.” And: “Go to sleep you weary hobo / Let … Continue reading »

City crime, country crime

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 15, 2011

A recent report announced that the huge financial company UBS will be moving back from a suburb of New York into Manhattan, “because it has come to realize it is more difficult to recruit talented people in their 20s to work in the suburbs.” What a (literal) turnaround! For about a generation, roughly from  the 1970s … Continue reading »

Living togetherness

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 8, 2011

People of a certain age (like me) can recall a time when the phrases “living together in sin” or “shacking up” were spoken in an embarrassed whisper. One did not discuss such things in front of the children or in polite company. When movie stars were revealed to have done it, newspapers printed scandalized headlines. … Continue reading »