Holding It Together: How Women Became America’s Safety Net

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8417 William H. Sewell Social Sciences Building
@ 12:15 pm - 1:30 pm

Holding It Together, the new book by Sociologist Jessica Calarco, reveals how the United States exploits women’s unpaid and underpaid labor to maintain the illusion of a “DIY society” and justify underinvestment in the social safety net. Through vivid portraits drawn from over 400 hours of interviews with families across the socioeconomic, racial, and political spectrum, along with original surveys of more than 4,000 U.S. parents, the book shows that without women, the U.S. social safety net would simply collapse. The book also illustrates how the United States traps women in this system of exploitation—leaving them either with no choice but to do the work of the social safety net or with the morally fraught choice of pushing that work onto others more vulnerable than them. Finally, and with insights from media and policy analyses, the book explores the myths that dissuade us from fighting together to build the kind of net that would better support us all.

Jessica Calarco
Photo of Jessica Calarco