Media Commentary

May 12, 2019 // caitlyn collins

“Why American Moms Can’t Get Enough Expert Parenting Advice”

Small wonder, then, that so many American mothers look to professionals for a lifeboat: Read one more article, download one more app, buy one more book, take one more class, listen to one more news story, and you might just find the key to escaping the cascade of stress. Yet this crisis is going to require a societal response, not an individual one. No parenting book, class, or podcast can resolve this hardship—and neither can any individual woman who seeks one out. By its very nature, expert advice implies that the source of mothers’ anxiety is themselves, not the structure of the workplace, or a lack of government policies, or oppressive cultural norms, or gender inequality.


February 10, 2019 // Caitlyn Collins

“The Real Mommy War is Against the State.”

Women — again, on this side of the Atlantic — routinely assume it’s their duty to stitch together time off after childbirth. Those fortunate to qualify for parental-leave benefits — even two months at full pay, or six weeks at partial pay — feel real gratitude for such slim provisions. And in a country where most women (too often the poor and racial-ethnic minorities) receive no paid leave at all, that gratitude makes sense. But being able to work and raise the next generation of taxpayers and employees should never be deemed a matter of mere “luck.”

Everyone should feel entitled to more.


September 19, 2019 // CAITLYN COLLINS

“Raising a Village: Identifying Social Supports for All Kinds of Families”

The United States was founded on the belief that citizens have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that government is meant to protect these rights. If we truly believe this nation should be at the forefront of human rights—a country where residents can truly lead free and happy lives alongside those they care for and care about—then the path ahead is obvious. We don’t need to start from scratch in envisioning better policy supports. The benefits already available in other countries are models from which to choose.


February 27, 2019 // Caitlyn Collins

“5 Ways European Moms Have it Better Than Us.

It’s 2019. Regardless of where they live, the majority of moms today work for pay outside the home. Two incomes are necessary to keep most households afloat. Given this economic reality, you’d think most western countries would offer similarly robust family supports. But that’s far from the truth. The types and levels of work-family policies vary widely from country to country. And this affects how families arrange childrearing and employment—whether parents get one month or one year to be home with a newborn, or can afford to leave work when their child gets sick without fear of being fired, or if dads are actively involved in caregiving.


April 11, 2018 // CAITLYN COLLINS

“Americans Love Seeing Swedish Dads Out With Their Kids. This is a Problem.”

Residents of Stockholm love to joke that tourists from the United States are easy to spot fresh off the airplane: As they look around the city’s cobblestone streets, they seem bewildered at the sight of so many men—alone in public, no female partners in sight—pushing children in strollers. They ask why nannying is such a popular job for men. Visitors are shocked to learn that these men aren’t paid babysitters but, in fact, fathers.


January 10, 2017 // CAITLYN COLLINS

“In Germany, Parents Can Sue the Government for Failing to Provide Child Care.”

A judge has ruled that mothers and fathers can try to recover wages they lost from staying home to take care of their kids. [ . . . ] The court’s decision is part of a broader conversation taking place in Germany and around the world about who is responsible for the care of children in an age when two out of three mothers work outside the home in economically developed countries. In the case of Germany, the government’s decision to offer high-quality, low-cost, universal daycare helps to spread the expense of childrearing across society, suggesting that it is not parents’ job alone to either raise children themselves or contract it out and pay for that service themselves. (Germany’s public child-care system is state-subsidized and its operation is decentralized, so parents’ contributions are set by the regions and vary according to family size and income.) Germany’s approach is not merely some charitable effort to help families; it also comes with real economic gain, as child-care availability is known to have a positive impact on women’s employment decisions.


April 26, 2018 // CAITLYN COLLINS

“Take Your Child to Work Day Happens a Lot More Than Once a Year.”

For my mom, Take Your Child to Work Day happened a lot more than once a year. And they weren’t planned as part of a national “holiday” sponsored by the likes of Goldman Sachs, MetLife, and Chevron. They usually weren’t planned at all, and they weren’t a celebration. Babysitters called in sick and daycare closed early. Schools had snow days, teacher planning days, holidays… We ran a fever or caught a cold and needed to be picked up early. So like mothers throughout the country, she hauled us to her office. This isn’t what the creators of Take Your Child to Work Day envisioned. … Rather than asking girls to set their sights higher or for workplaces to accommodate families one day a year, what changes can be made on a national level to make the lives of all families better and happier? And what role can organizations play in making this vision a reality?


June 24, 2015 // JAVIER AUYERO, CAITLYN COLLINS, AND KATIE JENSEN

“Exposing the Underbelly of Austin’s Economic Segregation.”

Austin conjures two parallel images in America’s popular imagination: Glowing descriptions of a “cool,” fast-growing city for the “young and creative” known for internationally famous musical events and Formula One racing compete with portrayals of increasing socioeconomic inequality and residential class, racial and ethnic segregation.

But like many U.S. cities and metropolitan areas, wealth and poverty are booming alongside each other — a thriving, highly unequal technopolis — magnifying the effects of social insecurity and reconfiguring the cityscape. Austin now enjoys the worrisome privilege of having the highest level of economic segregation of any large city in America.


March 2, 2015 // CAITLYN COLLINS, KATIE JENSEN, KRISTINE KILANSKI, AND JAVIER AUYERO

“The Other Side of Austin, TX.”

The study of social suffering takes a particular relevance (and urgency) in the context of neoliberal governance in the United States under which most previous forms of protection are being swiftly dismantled (i.e. welfare benefits, employer-provided health-care coverage, traditionally defined retirement pensions, etc.) and where the penal state has expanded exponentially in order to manage the effects of growing inequality at the bottom of the social hierarchy. In neoliberal times (and especially in the context of “neoliberalism on steroids,” as we could call the particular climate in Texas at present), socially produced forms of suffering take on exceptionally alarming features. Our collective work seeks to bring these experiences to light so that they can be the subject of public debate.

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