Challenging Labour Law in the 21st Century
Edited by Nicole Busby and Grace James
Chapter 1: Reconciling Employment and Family Care-giving: A Gender Analysis of Current Challenges and Future Directions for UK Policy
Suzi Macpherson INTRODUCTION In recent years there has been extensive analysis of ‘work and family reconciliation’ policy at European level. Feminist academics have made critical contributions to analysis of this policy agenda, using a gender lens to explore, among other things: policy differences between countries (Hantrais 2000; Crompton and Lyonette 2006; Lewis 2009); organizing working time (Perrons et al. 2007; Boulin 2007); promoting gender equality (Guerrina 2002; Stratigaki 2004; Lewis 2006); and the place of choice in women and men’s negotiations between employment and caring roles (Hantrais and Ackers 2005; Gregory and Milner 2009). Gender analysis of the ‘work–life balance’ policy agenda in the UK has focused on: women’s employment and work–life balance in speciﬁc occupational settings (Crompton and Lyonette 2007; Perrons 2003); working hours (Warren 2004; Fagan 2001); men’s experiences of work–life balance (O’Brien and Shemilt 2003; Warin et al. 1999); promoting gender equality (Lewis and Campbell 2007; Pascall 2008; Lewis 2009); and the place of choice in women’s decisions about labour market participation (McRae 2003; Hakim 2004). Many of these themes have long framed feminist analysis of gender inequality within the labour market and domestic spheres. The focus on choice is more recent, emerging initially through work such as Hakim’s (2000) preference theory, which argues that women in modern Western societies are now expressing preferences and making genuine choices about fertility and employment. In fact, the choices made by women and men in employment and family care-giving are often situated within wider social and...
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