Changing Patterns of Work, Care and Public Policy in Europe and North America
Globalization and Welfare series
Edited by Diane Perrons, Colette Fagan, Linda McDowell, Kath Ray and Kevin Ward
Chapter 1: Introduction: Work, Life and Time in the New Economy
Diane Perrons, Linda McDowell, Colette Fagan, Kath Ray and Kevin Ward The organization and composition of paid work and the structure of families have changed dramatically in recent decades and so too has the context within which individuals and families organize their lives. Contemporary times are characterized by the widespread, albeit uneven, use of information and computing technologies and greater economic, political and social communications between peoples and between states. As a consequence states in Northern and Western Europe have become more homogenous and moved closer to the United States in terms of their economies and working patterns. The service sector has become dominant, paid work has become feminized and more flexible and families are more varied in their composition. The significance of the male breadwinner, female caregiver model, dominant in the mid-twentieth century, has declined in both Europe and the United States, but the ensuing care deficit has not been resolved and to varying degrees growing numbers of both dual- and single-earning households struggle to find time to combine paid work with caring (Heyman, 2000). These changes result from the interrelations between the shifting economic and political context, in particular a more competitive and global economic environment and changing lifestyle preferences with regard to living and working arrangements. In advanced industrial societies new lifestyles, forms and patterns of work became increasing apparent towards the end of the twentieth century and terms such as ‘the risk society’, ‘late modernity’, ‘knowledge society’ and ‘new economy’ were used to portray the new...