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Elsewhere, U.S.A.: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety

Elsewhere, U.S.A.: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety

Written by Dalton Conley

Narrated by Christopher Lane


Elsewhere, U.S.A.: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety

Written by Dalton Conley

Narrated by Christopher Lane

ratings:
4/5 (4 ratings)
Length:
6 hours
Released:
Jan 13, 2009
ISBN:
9781423377665
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Over the past three decades, our daily lives have changed slowly but dramatically. Boundaries between leisure and work, public space and private space, and home and office have blurred and become permeable. How many of us now work from home, our wireless economy allowing and encouraging us to work 24/7? How many of us talk to our children while scrolling through e-mails on our BlackBerrys? How many of us feel overextended, as we are challenged to play multiple roles-worker, boss, parent, spouse, friend, and client-all in the same instant?

Dalton Conley, social scientist and writer, provides us with an X-ray view of our new social reality. In Elsewhere, U.S.A., Conley connects our daily experience with occasionally overlooked sociological changes: women's increasing participation in the labor force; rising economic inequality generating anxiety among successful professionals; the individualism of the modern era-the belief in self-actualization and expression-being replaced by the need to play different roles in the various realms of one's existence.

In this groundbreaking audiobook, Conley offers an essential understanding of how the technological, social, and economic changes that have reshaped our world are also reshaping our individual lives.

"This brilliant new book makes sense of how changes in the ways people work are affecting the ways families work. Conley writes with the grace of a novelist and the insight of a rigorous scholar." -Richard Sennett, author of The Craftsman

Released:
Jan 13, 2009
ISBN:
9781423377665
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Dalton Conley is University Professor at New York University. Conley holds a BA from UC Berkeley, an MPA and a PhD in Sociology from Columbia University, and an MS and PhD in Biology from NYU. He lives in New York City.


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3.8
4 ratings / 3 Reviews
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  • (3/5)
    Wanted to like this book, but couldn't. It's got recurring themes but lacks focus.
  • (4/5)
    Elsewhere, U.S.A. initially comes off as a more comprehensive update to Georg Simmel’s The Metropolis and Mental Life where Mr. and Mrs. 2009’s exposure to the unwieldy onslaught of emails, soccer practices, and complex-professional demands tends to increasingly fragment any clear notion of the individual (or the inner, private self). Whereas I’ve always read Simmel’s 1903 ode in hindsight as far too hyperbolic, Conley’s text does an admirable job of presenting many of these issues in a comprehensive, easily digestible manner (as I haven’t read Simmel’s writings about money, pre-modern society, etc. my reading is certainly skewered by the brevity of Metropolis). Nonetheless there seems something of a generalization about Mr. and Mrs. 2009 (he frequently contrasts our current couple with their 1959 counterparts) that reminds me of the supposed populace cleverly defined by Stuff White People Like. In Lander’s case, the subjects are presumably “white folk,” but really they’re a mere segment of the non-Hispanic White population that falls within the 24-to-35 age range, has or is working for a graduate degree, and lives in a gentrifying urban neighborhood. Conley’s approach, of course, isn’t that myopic. There is much in this book that is relevant for everyone in the US today. Possibly the most important aspect of this text is where he pinpoints the widening income gap as not only between rich and poor, but also – even more statistically glaring – between the merely well-off and the very rich. This disparity and the attendant technological accouterments tend to foster an aggressive populace that is always working. For any well-earned time off is no longer viewed as such but rather seen as additional money lost. Perhaps my unease is that I must consider this from the vantage point of my distorted segment of the population – that is, as an architect. Our modus operandi is to work insane hours so we can make less money, and attain zero job security (for you see, Lander’s peeps who enthuse about architecture while lounging in their “van der Rohe” never give me a damn call! But I digress…). If I found myself a bit detached from some of the general themes, in utilizing details/examples the author had the uncanny knack of mentioning various things that I often complain about but seemingly escape the ire of others. His acknowledgement that money-procured organ and sex transactions are seemingly the only things considered taboo in our otherwise comprehensive capitalist society is spot on. But my favorite was his experience in 1989 of seeing an AmEx advertisement in a movie theater. When The Village was supposedly still “The Village,” many of the patrons booed, hissed, threw crap at the screen, and walked out. But, as the author is no doubt correct, they likely were satiated by free tickets to yet another movie fronted by crass advertising. Everyone just moved on with their life. Around 1990 I saw my first ad before a movie – Levis Jeans – and I was equally perturbed. His mention made me ponder why I’ve only gone to about five movies in the intervening 19 years (usually dragged kicking and screaming to even those) and I realized that initially I (loudly) refused to pay box office rates to see a damn commercial. Eventually I had forgot about my defiant stand, and simply didn’t go as I was too busy beefing up my architecture portfolio in case any of Lander’s “White People” came-a-calling.
  • (4/5)
    The Elsewhere Generation When historians look back at this period, from the mid-90's to our present, they will, as Conley has, find many parallels between the conformity of the 1950s to our present time. There are similarities, yet significant differences as well. That is what Conley attempts to explore, the sociological effects of what he calls, the elsewhere class, the result of changing economic, familial, and technological changes.Conley works through a number of frameworks, he has a heavy marxist bent to most of his analysis, especially on the notion of commodity fetishism and economic inequality. The many paradoxes and contradictions which include the fact that despite the efficiencies of the digital world, we work twice as hard; or the fact that work has become the end rather than the means; or that the more money we earn the higher economic anxiety we experience.Some parts are better analyzed than others. The parts on social class and work relations are better than the chapters on child psychology and technology. Also, some of the historical work on the 1950s is partially incomplete. At less than 200 pages, Conley perhaps tackles more than he can chew. But the writing is colloquial which makes reading quite the breeze.Overall, I think this is an excellent book for anyone looking for a primer on the effects of technology and globalization on social relations.