Everyday Revolutionaries

Sally Helgesen, Author, Sara Corbett, Author
Sally Helgesen, Author, Sara Corbett, Author Doubleday Books $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-48025-3
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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William Whyte's 1956 classic, The Organization Man, identified white, middle-class suburban men as the individuals whose values, lifestyles and aspirations were the most indicative of the age. Helgesen (The Female Advantage) proposes that working women now occupy this position. She maintains that, as the industrial economy evolved into an information economy, women--largely because of feminism and their postwar entry into the workforce--began actively to redefine their identities and lifestyles. While one of Whyte's organization men was just like another, Helgesen notes that women are creating many models of how to juggle the responsibilities of work, family, motherhood and selfhood. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with young and middle-aged women in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Ill., Helgesen concludes: ""It is [women's] improvisations, both individual and collective, that are altering the way people now live,... giving direction to a common future."" Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the persuasive case Helgesen makes that there is a symbiosis between evolving notions of femininity and of Americanness. It's just one of many rewarding speculations in this cogent and insightful work of reporting and social history. (Feb.)
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