Get access

The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same?

Paradoxes of Men’s Unpaid Labor Since ‘The Second Shift’



Since the publication of Arlie Hochschild’s groundbreaking work, The Second Shift (1989), scholars have delineated and deliberated the predictors and implications of American men’s participation in unpaid labor. Still, there’s little consensus about the current or future state of gender inequality in US households. In the course of reviewing scholarship published on this topic over the last two decades, this piece outlines and critically reflects upon two paradoxical conclusions one might reach when examining trends in men’s housework and care work time. In comparing and contrasting what I call ‘the mop bucket is half full’ and ‘the mop bucket is half empty’ conclusions, I also highlight the major theoretical frameworks, empirical findings, and diverging opinions on whether Hochschild’s ‘household revolution’ is permanently stalled, slowly reigniting, or ready to take off. I then conclude with a call for consensus among scholars and suggestions for future research on men’s participation in unpaid labor.

Get access to the full text of this article