Gendered Lives

Gendered Lives

Gender Inequalities in Production and Reproduction

Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Shirley Dex and Anke C. Plagnol

The focus of the book is on inequalities in production and reproductive activities, as played out over time and in specific contexts. It examines the different forms that gendered lives take in the household and the workplace, and explores how gender equalities may be promoted in a changing world. Gendered Lives offers many novel and sometimes unexpected findings that contribute to new understandings of not only the causes of gender inequalities but also the ongoing implications for economic well-being and societal integration.

Chapter 8: Gender Equality and Work–Family Balance in a Cross-national Perspective

Jane Lewis

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, family and gender policy, labour policy, sociology and sociological theory


1 Jane Lewis The development of modern social policies can be seen as attempts to address certain kinds of risk collectively: typically those of unemployment, ill health and old age. These arrangements were elaborated in the first half of the twentieth century, but by the end of the century the nature of social risks was looking rather different. Labour markets had changed, becoming more ‘flexible’, with much less expectation of a ‘job for life’. Families had changed, both in form, becoming much more ‘fluid’, and at the household level in terms of the kinds of contributions made by men and, more especially, women. Families have become increasingly dependent on two earners, with women increasing their employment rate and hours of work dramatically, while men have continued to work full-time and often long hours (particularly fathers), and have failed substantially to increase the time they devote to childcare and housework. Welfare systems were built on the assumption of stable families in which men would take primary responsibility for earning and women for the unpaid work of care, and on a commitment to full employment, but are now faced with a new landscape of social risks (Brush 2002). Family and labour market changes have been accompanied by wider changes in social provision. Since the 1990s, welfare state change in Western Europe has been driven largely by the aim of promoting employment as a means of ensuring competitiveness and growth (CEC 2000). In the face of common economic and demographic challenges, European welfare...

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