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The Labour Market Ate My Babies

The Labour Market Ate My Babies

Work, children and a sustainable future

By Barbara Pocock

CONTENTSREVIEWS

Listed in top 50 Management Books for 2006 in the Australian Financial Review BOSS magazine, January 2007, Volume 8.

In The Labour Market Ate My Babies Barbara Pocock, acclaimed author of The Work/Life Collision, examines the impact of modern working life on our children.

In this book, young Australians from all over the country, city and the bush, rich and poor, talk about the good and bad of parental work - the trade off between money and time, consumer riches versus time for each other.

Pocock argues that the modern labour market is having a huge impact on today’s youth and eating into our capacity to care. Children have become a ‘market’. Caring for kids and selling to kids is big business, as stressed, time-poor parents struggle to care for their children and salve their guilt with presents and pocket money.

How will this future generation of workers weigh up the labour market and organise their lives? The Labour Market Ate My Babies argues that a sustainable future requires new policy approaches to work that incorporate the perspectives of children. We should:

  • ensure that parents get the time they need away from work when they need it
  • help parents get a good fit between how they want to work, and how they have to
  • provide quality, low cost, public childcare options
  • stop advertising to kids in ways that stimulate an early work/spend cycle.

It’s good to get money coming in and probably it’s good to work as hard as you can when you’re younger so when you’re older you can retire with some money. But there should probably be a limit to how much before your relationships with other people start to strain because you are never there (Adam, 16)


CONTENTS

Introduction and overview
Understanding households, work, and social reproduction
Work, children and time versus money
Job spillover: How parents’ job affect young people
Guilt, money and the market at work
Future work and households: Transitions and sharing
Kids as commodities? Childcare in Australia
Runaway consumption, the work/spend cycle and youth
Children, work and a sustainable future

Appendix
Data sources
Bibliography
Index


REVIEWS

Barbara Pocock's new book, The Labour Market Ate My Babies, takes a thorough look at the ways that work impacts on family life; and calls for an overhaul of the way society supports parents trying to simultaneously care for kids and pay household bills.
Pocock, an Adelaide academic who has written extensively on the social impacts of labour market, explores the shrinking capacity of Australian families to sustain themselves as parents become increasingly time-poor and consumption-dependent; women's growing role in the workforce; the explosion in the for-profit childcare sector; and falling job security.
The ground covered by The Labour Market Ate My Babies is wide-ranging and interesting, but where it really shines is in its in-depth interviews with young people on how their parents' work affects them and their future plans for work and family.
… In today's IR climate, with WorkChoices whittling away working Australians' conditions and bargaining power, Pocock's voice is an important reminder of the human implications of unfair work laws.
[The full text of this review is available here: http://workers.labor.net.au/features/200611/d_review_pocock.html]

Workers Online, No 334, 24 November 2006

The Labour Market Ate My Babies deserves a wide audience, and very little of it assumes a familiarity with economic theory. The aim of the book is to explore some of the consequences for families and children of our increasing reliance on markets. Its unique contribution is to report these impacts from the perspective of a cohort of young people, principally teenagers, rather than focus on adult perceptions and problems.
The Labour Market Ate My Babies provides compelling evidence that the conditions in which adults are employed shape not only their own experiences, but the attitudes of their children. We are only beginning to appreciate these intergenerational effects. Barbara Pocock has succeeded in showing why we should take seriously issues which, until now, have barely been mentioned in the debate over industrial relations ‘reform’.

Industrial Relations Society of South Australia Newsletter, April 2007

   

Published 23 October 2006
Publisher The Federation Press
Paperback/264pp
ISBN 9781862876040
Australian RRP $44.95
International Price $40.00
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Industrial Relations / EEO
Family Studies
Social Studies
Women's Studies


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