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Film Clips, Chapter 9

Part I

The End of Men (2011)

CBC Doc Zone documentary, 45:12

A recent trend in the labour market since 2007 is that many middle class Canadian and American men in middle management positions are being “downsized.” Losing the job, the income, and the schedule has significant impacts for these men and their families. This documentary illustrates these consequences and what men are doing to cope with un- and under-employment. More to the point, job loss becomes personal failure in the male model of employment and the breadwinner ideology that middle-aged men have grown up with (Doucet, pp. 167, 175–176). Given this change, one could ask: Is this really the end of men or the end of an ideology? And what will replace it?

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Explain how restructuring in the labour market and the loss of “good jobs” has affected the men portrayed in the video in material (i.e., financial and productivity) terms. Is this regionally or historically specific (see Doucet, pp. 167–168 for example), as it was in the past? Is it a new trend in your region? How is this affecting women in the labour market? Are they getting full-time jobs and breadwinner incomes (pp. 176–181)?
  2. Is the “end of men” as this documentary portrays it necessarily a bad thing? Can you see any benefits to these changes for families and for women and men (pp. 180–181)? How are they affecting our “household work strategies” (p. 176)?
  3. How does the “end of men” affect younger men differently than middle aged or older men? How does socialization make a difference to this? (pp. 172–175, 180–181)

Part II

Hanna Rosin: New Data on the Rise of Women

TED talk, 16:13

Rosin looks at the “end of men” from the perspective of what is going on with women, starting with fertility and graduation statistics and going on to earnings, paid work, home ownership, and so on. Women’s roles and changing status are deeply influenced by their new roles in the global economy. Global recessions are affecting men more so than women because middle skill and middle earning manufacturing jobs are disappearing. The jobs now in demand are in the service and information industries, for which women have traditionally been socialized and trained. These demand variations of housekeeping and caring skills (Doucet, pp. 168–173). Rosin points out that men are now disadvantaged by traditional ideals of masculinity and the breadwinner role. Her preference for the metaphor of “the high bridge” to replace the glass ceiling is worthy of consideration and discussion.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Should this issue be framed as a competition between men and women (pp. 180–181)? Why or why not, according to Rosin? Why is the metaphor of the “high bridge” more appropriate today than the “glass ceiling”? How will taking this perspective affect families?
  2. Citing statistics from the text and your own observations, how relevant in your family and community are the social changes to which Rosin? (pp. 168–175, 180–181).

Part III

Nigel Marsh: How to Make Work–Life Balance Work

TED talk, 10:05

Marsh reveals the lip service we are paying to the idea of work–life balance and addresses reality that work is not always compatible with family (Doucet, pp. 176–181). The four points we are not acknowledging includes the fact that many of us work at meaningless jobs in bad working conditions, waiting for governments to solve the problem (they won’t). Marsh argues that we need to take control and design our own lives instead of allowing corporations to determine quality of life. We need to think carefully about the time frame of our balance and to “approach balance in a balanced way” by considering intellectual, relational, and spiritual needs as well as physical. By changing our views of success and a “life well lived,” we can change our cultural habitus.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Why does Marsh feel that we cannot count on government or corporate policies to solve our problems of work–life balance? Based on the text material (pp. 179–180), do you agree? What are some policies that might make a difference?
  2. Is your work (or the work of people around you) compatible with family life? What features of the job are particularly helpful or damaging to your (or their) work–life balance?
  3. What are the social disutilities of not reaching a work–life balance? What are the effects of this for children and families?