Cover of Busier Than Ever! by Charles N. Darrah, James M. Freeman, and J.A. English-Lueck
Busier Than Ever!
Why American Families Can't Slow Down
Charles N. Darrah, James M. Freeman, and J.A. English-Lueck


296 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804754910
Paperback ISBN: 9780804754927
Ebook ISBN: 9780804768184


Excerpts and More

Busyness defines the lives of most Americans. For some, the focus of busyness is family. For others, it is career or social activities. Sometimes busyness results from a big event, like the catastrophic illness of a family member, but much of it builds from many seemingly inconsequential demands that collectively become overwhelming. We search for the best airline prices on the Internet, are "partners" with teachers in our children's education, and employ a battery of devices that promise to save labor if only we can learn how to use them.

Busier Than Ever! follows the daily activities of fourteen American families. It explores why they are busy and what the consequences are for their lives. Busyness is not just a matter of personal time management, but of the activities we participate in and how each of us creates "the good life." While numerous books deal with efficiency and the difficulties of balancing work and family, Busier Than Ever! offers a fresh approach. Busyness is not a "problem" to be solved—it is who we are as Americans and it's redefining American families.

About the authors

Charles N. Darrah, James M. Freeman, and J.A. English-Lueck are professors of anthropology at San Jose State University.

"Busier Than Ever! is a highly readable book full of accessible anecdotes of families adjusting in a modern world... The reality of outsourcing or downsizing is handled by the authors in a sensitive, thoughtful way... [This book] is certainly a welcome addition to the sociology of work and family.—Canadian Journal of Sociology

"...intriguing, insightful, and suggestive...raises important questions about people's social lives."


"Overscheduled families with mission statements. Parents on the run. Kids too busy for childhood. Work invades family life, and vice versa. Blurred boundaries and compartmentalized behavior. How do families create and manage the myriad obligations of middle-class life in 21st century America? Based on extended and detailed ethnographic fieldwork, with intriguing and appealing case studies, the authors offer an unique analysis of contemporary life. No one seeking to understand the American middle class today can afford to miss this highly readable and revealing book."

—Conrad Kottak, University of Michigan

"We all know—and experience—that Americans are busier than ever, but what does that busyness actually entail, day to day, family to family? A fascinating examination of everyday life, this book offers a detailed picture of what constitutes busyness in American families as they cope with a risk society and manage the consequences of option overload. While showing that each family is unique, the authors also uncover patterns that help us understand family life in America today."

—Deborah Tannen, author of You're Wearing THAT? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation

"The authors have discovered a remarkable paradox. In their devotion to family, parents often express a desire for efficiency, control, productivity – a 'new instrumentalism' many of us associate with work. This is a timely look in the mirror of dual-income middle class America."

—Arlie Hochschild, author of The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work

"This book is a fascinating read packed with detailed information about each of the study families' various experiences with and attempts to cope with busyness...Their [the authors] conclusions are insightful and provocative, and should spark lively discussion."

Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare