Riding the Washington State Ferry one evening rush hour, I overheard a conversation between a man and a woman (lets call him Bob and her Jean), both in their late 30s. They were acquainted through travelling the same ferry each day between jobs in downtown Seattle and homes on Bainbridge Island. Jean asked Bob about his new job. Bob was enthusiastic but uncertain of the future. Having switched firm four times in as many years he typified the new breed of ‘portfolio-worker’1: what he gained in experience of new people and projects he lost in time and energy spent securing the next contract. Bob asked Jean about her commute, wondering how she managed to get her daughters to day-care and kindergarten and still make the 8 am ferry. Jean acknowledged she continually watched the clock and feared something inevitably failing in this fragile arrangement. She had to manage her domestic and professional lives as if no conflict existed between them. With mobile phone and Filofax in hand,2 she variously struck deals and kept track of family members — from her car, on the ferry and from duplicate offices at home and downtown. Her routine typified the complex integration of ‘work’ and ‘life’ popularly described as a ‘balancing act’.
KeywordsLabour Market Market Orientation Moral Rationality Domestic Labour Economic Liberalism
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