As a researcher whose training is of the lit crit/historical persuasion (I am NOT nor have I ever been a social scientist, though there are times when I really wish I were!), I have a question for my friends of the economist/social scientist persuasion:
For those picking up this thread today, I've been blogging this week about Leslie Bennett's book, The Feminine Mistake, as I read it. Much as I may disagree on certain (key) points, Leslie Bennetts is GOOD. Every time I silently voice an objection, she addresses it on the next page. But I have a more general question about journalists interpreting data when it comes to research on women/girls/families -- and maybe experts from the Council on Contemporary Families crew can help us out here and set it straight.
Bennetts writes that "some feminists have challenged the very existence of a back-to-the-home trend on the grounds that more than two-thirds of all American mothers still participate in the labor force" (7) and that "[o]ther analysts have challenged the idea that we're witnessing a resurgence of stay-at-home motherhood by attacking the news stories describing this phenomenon" (8). She calls analyses like those put forth by Heather Boushey "arguments." I thought they were evidence. She calls them "denials" and invokes (critically, perhaps, but I think not) Linda Hirshman who refers to it all as the "it's not happening" defense.
Which is it? Is it happening? Or not? Is the reading of the early 2000s recession as the reason for women's labor-force dip interpretation -- or fact?