New Books Network

Aliya Hamid Rao

Crunch Time

How Married Couples Confront Unemployment

University of California Press 2020

New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Sociology July 23, 2020 Krystina Millar

In Crunch Time: How Married Couples Confront Unemployment (University of California Press, 2020), Aliya Hamid Rao gets up close and personal with college-educated, unemployed...

In Crunch Time: How Married Couples Confront Unemployment (University of California Press, 2020), Aliya Hamid Rao gets up close and personal with college-educated, unemployed men, women, and spouses to explain how comparable men and women have starkly different experiences of unemployment. Traditionally gendered understandings of work—that it’s a requirement for men and optional for women—loom large in this process, even for marriages that had been not organized in gender-traditional ways. These beliefs serve to make men’s unemployment an urgent problem, while women’s unemployment—cocooned within a narrative of staying at home—is almost a non-issue. Crunch Time reveals the minutiae of how gendered norms and behaviors are actively maintained by spouses at a time when they could be dismantled, and how gender is central to the ways couples react to and make sense of unemployment.

In this interview, Dr. Rao and I discuss gendered time and space, as well as how time and type of engagement with housework during times of unemployment. I recommend this book for students, professors, and anyone else interested in family, work, and gender norms.

Dr. Rao is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University. She completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University in 2018. Her research interests include using qualitative methodologies to study work and organizations, economic sociology, family, gender, and emotions. You can find her on Twitter at @AliyaHRao.


Krystina Millar is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University. Her research interests include gender, sociology of the body, and sexuality. You can find her on Twitter at @KrystinaMillar.