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Session Overview
RN13_09c_P: Work-Family Balance and Work-Family Conflicts I
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Hana Hašková, Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences
Session Chair: Anna-Maija Castren, University of Eastern Finland
Location: PD.4.37
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: D, Level: 4.

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Power structures and traditional division of household tasks within couples: A comparison of European countries

Ruth Abramowski

University of Salzburg, Austria

In the last decades, we observe a rapid modernization in most European counties. In particular, equal rights in the private sphere were implemented and supported by family policies. Gender equality as a political goal is highly valued among couples. Nevertheless, if comparing the division of household tasks in European countries, we observe a striking discrepancy between egalitarian attitudes and traditional domestic behaviors. Considering the behavioral traditionalism, the primary research question is: How do power structures and empowerment determine the division of household tasks within couples in different European countries?

The goals of this PhD project are to create a theoretical meta-analysis of central studies, to develop a typology of power dimensions, to carry out a multilevel analysis that integrates the dimensions societal empowerment and the power division within couples and to explain the division of household tasks. The theoretical approach is that the division of household tasks could be explained by structural conditions, institutions, participation, cultural values, attitudes and individual differences.

In the analysis of the division of household tasks all European countries will be integrated for which the first and second wave of GGS data are available in order to develop an appropriate multilevel model for longitudinal, nested data. Up to now, only 14 countries from the first wave are analyzed. Comparing these countries, the ‘Task-Participation-Index’ indicate small country-specific differences, however, in all countries women do more housework than men. According to the first results, especially non-traditional division of household tasks is more accepted in countries with higher political empowerment for women. Due to the small sample size at level 2 analysis, we designed an analysis of regional level.

Practices in Egalitarian Partnerships: New Findings from German Families

Magdalena Gerum, Claudia Zerle-Elsäßer

German Youth Institute, Munich, Germany

In Germany a new norm arises: Mothers and fathers should share responsibilities in the family as well as in paid work to equal parts. Although this norm of a more egalitarian partnership is pushed forward by modernized German family policies, everyday practices still are much less egalitarian than desired.

Therefore our research focuses on identifying and analyzing “really egalitarian partnerships” where occupation and family work are shared equally following the main research questions 1) how egalitarian Germany’s egalitarian partnerships actually are and 2) which influencing factors can promote or inhibit the extent of egalitarianism.

The analyses are based on the dataset “AID:A II” (Growing up in Germany II), a large survey conducted by the German Youth Institute (Munich), which includes around 12,000 families with a child under 18 years of age. The data allows identifying “really egalitarian partnerships” by comparing their actual working hours and division of family work. Our results show that “really egalitarian partnerships” still are a very rare phenomenon in Germany: Only a few couples do work the same hours and even if, they mostly do not share the family work equally.

Findings suggest that corresponding to our assumptions the number and age of children, the education level of mothers and fathers as well as personal attitudes like gender concepts are closely related to the level of egalitarianism in families. Further important influencing factors for the level of egalitarianism are the social prestige of the parents, mainly the fathers' occupation, the mothers' striving of autonomy as part of their concepts of partnership and the mother's satisfaction with their partnership.

Having it all or doing it all? Successful femininity in a neoliberal age

Kristina Saunders

University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

In an age of neoliberalism and individualization, the apparent decline of traditional categories such as gender, class and the family implies greater potential for choice, exploration, and self-creation (Giddens:1991, Beck and Beck-Gernsheim:2002). For women in particular, these conditions are said to create a shift from being defined by domesticity, to becoming freely choosing subjects who can equally participate in education and paid employment, where they can ‘have it all’ (Harris:2004). Giddens also (1992) claims that declining tradition allows for the democratization of intimate life; which is presumed to lead to greater gender equality in relationships, and a move from the male bread-winner, to dual-earner family.

In this context, freedom and choice are claimed to define women’s lives, yet they are expected to demonstrate productivity in the labour market, whilst also being expected to engage with a form of motherhood focused upon investing in children (Faircloth:2013). Presented as freely chosen, it is contradictory expectations such as these that come to re-traditionalize traditional gender relations as ‘having it all’ appears more akin to ‘doing it all’ (McRobbie:2013).

Drawing on qualitative data from my PhD research, this paper will discuss how the contradictory and discursive elements of neoliberalism and individualization come to affect women’s experiences of paid and unpaid work. Findings from in-depth interviews with women from a range of social backgrounds in Scotland, aged 21-60, will be used to explore the ways in which the notion of doing it all aids in the construction of a ‘successful’ female trajectory that women are expected to follow; which is defined by ideals of hyper-productivity and responsibility in relation to paid, unpaid, and emotional labour.

Beyond ‘work-family conflict’. New metaphors and vocabularies for women empowerment

Laura Grunberg, Stefania Matei

University of Bucharest, Romania

RN13_f (short abstract)

In many scientific and policy contexts, femininity is discussed through a vocabulary of family-work ‘conflict’. This practice acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, with unintended consequences on women’s agency. The dominant discourse defines the terms in which the reality of work-family conflict appears to women, thus introducing an understanding of family and professional life as antagonist domains of existence. Through a phenomenological interpretation of the metaphors and vocabularies used by women nurses to make sense of their life, we illustrate the performativity of language and the role of communicative action in raising a type of self-awareness that might be used to overcome gender inequalities. We claim that a repertoire of autonomy is more suitable than a vocabulary of family-work reconciliation in designing adequate gender sensitive policies and strategies of women empowerment. In this context, we propose and document a playful methodology to explore the interaction between family and work by relying on non-intrusive techniques of data gathering.

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