Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century

Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century

New Barriers and Continuing Constraints

Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette

Both women and men strive to achieve a work and family balance, but does this imply more or less equality? Does the persistence of gender and class inequalities refute the notion that lives are becoming more individualised? Leading international authorities document how gender inequalities are changing and how many inequalities of earlier eras are being eradicated. However, this book shows there are new barriers and constraints that are slowing progress in attaining a more egalitarian society. Taking the new global economy into account, the expert contributors to this book examine the conflicts between different types of feminisms, revise old debates about ‘equality’ and ‘difference’ in the gendered nature of work and care, and propose new and innovative policy solutions.

Chapter 9: Perceptions of Quality of Life: Gender Differences Across the Life Course

Jacqueline Scott, Anke C. Plagnol and Jane Nolan

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, family and gender policy, labour policy

Extract

Jacqueline Scott, Anke C. Plagnol and Jane Nolan INTRODUCTION The study of quality of life is in the ascendancy. As the evidence becomes clearer that increasing the purchasing power of citizens does not automatically increase their sense of well-being, there is new interest in how quality of life is perceived. If it is not merely money and good health that matter, then what else is important for the ‘good life’? Recent decades have seen a convergence of interest in quality of life research by economists, psychologists, sociologists and philosophers (for example Sirgy et al. 2006). Philosophers have tended to focus on the abstract principles or, more often, the difficulties of arriving at principles that might help guide people’s pursuit of happiness. A crude summary of the philosophers’ position is that it is tough for people to know what makes a good life. Social scientists are more modest in their aims and tend to focus on the range of so-called ‘goods’ that may contribute to quality of life. The economists and sociologists are interested in not only how these are distributed across the population, but also how they change across time. The range of possible ‘goods’ is very wide and includes health (Wilkinson 1996), employment (Gallie 1996), money (Easterlin 2001), time (Gershuny and Halpin 1996), status (Marmot 2004), environment (Bliss 1996) and so on. Among the most important of these ‘goods’ are those that are found in the private sphere, particularly in terms of relationships with friends and family. The notion...

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