Gender Inequalities in Production and Reproduction
Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Shirley Dex and Anke C. Plagnol
Chapter 7: Work–Family Conflict and Well-being in Northern Europe
Jacqueline Scott and Anke C. Plagnol INTRODUCTION Work–family conflict is a crucial issue for quality of life. Moreover, public interest in work–family balance policies has expanded significantly in recent years. From the policy-maker’s perspective the issue concerns the extent to which the state can and should intervene to help men and women reconcile work and family responsibilities. This issue has become urgent because, as Esping-Andersen asserts, there is an incomplete revolution in gender roles that threatens societal stability (Esping-Andersen 2009). What is meant by such a claim? The idea is that in modern societies women are facing severe problems of reconciling their dual preference for children and careers. For a growing proportion of women and men, women’s employment and less gender specialisation is desirable, both ideologically and pragmatically. Thus the dual-earner based partnership is becoming normative – it is the ‘thing to do’. Yet, we know only too well from time-budget studies that changes in the domestic sphere lag well behind the changing realities of women’s employment. Women, faced with only 24 hours in a day, find they have to reduce the time they spend on unpaid work such as housework and family care, when they increase their hours of paid work. While women’s paid work activity has been on the rise, time-budget studies reveal that, on average, men are not compensating by an equivalent take-up of unpaid work (Gershuny and Kan, Chapter 3 in this volume). So what is the solution? While housework can be outsourced to some...
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