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 book, 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 book may have well been special ordered to help my family understand our lives and struggles. Conley and I seem to share more then a few things, born in 1969, degrees in sociology, 2 school age children, and married to high achieving professional women. We also seem to share a love for our work and a wonder about how the line between work and family has blurred (as I sit here Sunday evening with my laptop pecking out book reviews while my girls dance around me). The premise of Elsewhere USA is that highly educated professionals (particularly those of us raising kids or taking care of dependents) are defined by gifts and obligations inherent in the tension between nurturing careers and nurturing our families.
We love our work, but since we deal in concepts, knowledge and persuasion it is not always clear if produce anything solid. Therefore, we are spurned to work more, in order to justify to others our value and to accrue the knowledge and social capital necessary to insure mobility in the knowledge economy. Nights and weekends are spent one eye on the laptop, one-eye on the kids, never quite being totally focussed on either but keeping both going.
Separating work and family is increasingly unrealistic, as both spheres demand time and energy in bursts or at unpredictable times, and neither can be "put aside" to focus on any single demand. Conley's recommendation is to give up worrying about role conflict, and embrace the duality and dynamism of a hybrid work/family life. Once the laptop has been opened it cannot be shut (and really - who would want to as it brings such interesting information and networks). Besides, this is the world our kids will live in as well....and it is through watching how we handle the juggle that they will learn to be flexible and hopefully find work that is their passion (as they will do so much of it in their lives).
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This book is a very interesting analysis of the current working generation, and how it compares to previous generations, but it feels like a 6+ hour rant as opposed to a well-organized discussion. The discussion washes over you and you certainly get a feel for what the author is talking about, but not much useful information and certainly nothing to incorporate into the real Elsewhere society.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I found that the author went off on tangents frequently ... but very interesting tangents. I had to back up the audio frequently because I lost track of what he was talking about; I don't normally have that problem. I did enjoy the information presented.
Some of the material went hand in hand with "How We Decide" by Jonah Lehrer.
Narrator was great!
An intriguing look at the sociology of life in the internet age.
The book talks about a dozen different sociological impacts of the leading edge of a revolution in the way we live, mostly caused by new technology. The idea of being one place in body and elsewhere in mind or sprit by virtue of you BlackBerry is used as a metaphor for these dozen or so new developments. But the metaphor is somewhat lose as the range of topics includes marriage and divorce and being overwhelmed by advertising.