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Rossana Trifiletti DISPO Università di Firenze Ways of managing work-life balance in Europe Qualitative interviews with households.

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Presentation on theme: "Rossana Trifiletti DISPO Università di Firenze Ways of managing work-life balance in Europe Qualitative interviews with households."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rossana Trifiletti DISPO Università di Firenze Ways of managing work-life balance in Europe Qualitative interviews with households about work and care

2 Boundaries of work-life balance are shifting: - it is not only a womens problem - no one seems to make decisions on the basis of abstract preferences - decisions are compromises between the possible and the preferred All types of families have reconciliation problems: - dual-earners and time pressure - one-and-a-half-earners and gender unbalances in labour market participation - single parents and multiple roles requirements - how could different families adapt to societal requests and changes? Relevance for society

3 Work-life balance is a daily practice and, at the same time, a life-course strategy: - relevance of daily arrangements - relevance of strategies during life-course - attention to family strategies as over-individual behaviours and stipulations - interweaving of individual trajectories across spheres of life in respect of individual agency - attention to individual strategies too (time for oneself) Everywhere in Europe a dual-earner model is emerging, regardless of countries ideology about family: - even in countries where the dual-earner model is not so widespread, parents would both aspire to work full-time. - in respondents view, the male breadwinner model is culturally exhausted, independently of: living in a more or less familist country having or not an unequal gender division of work and family tasks

4 The qualitative research: basic fact sheet 111 parents selected among dual-earner, one-and-a-half and single parent households in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and UK. 65 households with at least one child aged between 5 and 12 years old. Children older than prime-age and pre-school years: i.e. parents life histories covering long periods of experience in combining work and child caring. Partners interviewed separately, by two interviewers, but at the same time, in two separate rooms. The interviewer-respondents relation not altered by a third presence. Personal and subjective construction of respondents world of meanings. Interview average duration: 1 h and 45.

5 Main features of selected households. Cases selected for the computer-assisted analysis (*) Only one partner has been interviewed, except for two couples where both partners have been interviewed Households and respondents

6 Respondents selected according to income evaluation Main features of selected households. Economic classes

7 Worlds of caring: children at the centre Children define the mental space of the family which exists putting them at the centre of life, while a precise task of intensive parenting is generated. Intensive parenting states family rituals, protects children from rush hours outside and gives a structure -by precise symbolic appointments or occasions- to work and weekend day. Especially when children cross the border between private and public sphere, parents and children are there to celebrate their connectedness Yes, when they leave [school] the hugs, the kisses, telling how the day went. Because I follow them a lot, they do their modules, so even at school you were good, even with their friends if they argued, and then, mum, I had the best. IT_14_DE_She Now, on Saturday and Sunday the girl has performances. These are not competitions anymore. These are only galas. The problem with these is that she has to change clothes three or four times. The whole family goes to such a competition HUN_02_OH_She Class inequalities concern more how much relaxed time they can enjoy, not so much the aspiration to its quality.

8 Worlds of caring: intensive parenting Parents all over Europe invest a lot of energy in their educational model, regardless of their class: I well, now it is possible already to talk to her about the things of the world. This is what I value most. These conversations are the most enjoyable part of treating my daughter. When we in the evenings talk to each other. In an absolutely free way HUN_15_SP_She As a consequence of the importance given to education, parents invest a lot in the cognitive development of children: Its having an active, positive take on things. I think each moment is unique. It will never come back. Time goes so fast when theyre this age. I think we have to realize the importance of the things that happen as a whole. And say Look. Did you see? I did this or that; thats how we can relate to them PT_06_DE_She Therefore, social policies should support this development enabling this transition from care to cognitive learning.

9 Worlds of caring: the new fathers Fathers involvement is no more one step removed. Thanks to the generalization of a high educational ideal, many fathers do complain about not having good, quality time to enjoy with their children on a daily basis, when they are still small: a short phase of their development they do not want to miss: My son will now be going to school and is independent in some ways, which is really astonishing, […] So, you have about five to seven years that are relatively in-depth and then it basically starts fizzing out, yes AU_01_OH_He After being father, I understood the importance of some things. The importance of every single thing that we do together with the children. All these small things are important in the future PT_04_DE_He This change often involves being aware of the value of taking paternal leave: And I would personally do it again if I were to have more children. It was worth all the minutes. […] I got to know my children in a different way, although I already knew my children DK_09_DE_He A number of mothers recognize the strong relationship between children and fathers, whose presence is not only related to a playful childishness, but endorses many other dimensions.

10 Worlds of caring : packaging the network In all countrie s dailycare of children involves a mixture of formal and informal resources. This is usually realized around childcare services or school, integrated with grandparents or babysitters. When this mixture is unavailable, babysitters or childminders are the last resort, independently of country and class differences. In southern or eastern countries, grandparents are significantly more available for daily, or almost daily, involvement. In case of emergencies, though, grandparents are everywhere available. 4 main types of network: Rich networks Mixture of formal and informal resources Multidimensional networks Several layers of possible substitutes Poor Network Only infomal resources No network Shift parenting

11 Negotiating in the workplace High-level managers and professionals are not constrained as much to a particular office system and, apart from teamwork, coordination, and meetings, can adopt practices of mobile working, without any need for a physical presence in the office. Middle managers, skilled and unskilled service workers are an assorted group. There are varying types of connection between the extent of discretion and autonomy they have and the possibility to negotiate in the workplace. Amongst working class, in contrast with the two previous classes, reconciliation of working and parenting activities is a matter of informal solutions that are very internal to the family: scant use of babysitters, childcare, children activities, etc. It occurs to me sometimes that I arrange something in connection with my work at home, the work and family are converging, absolutely. So, evidently it comes for, that I take work home with me… it comes for…sure ITC Manager I can go back home, even if there are customers waiting for…there is no problem. My situation at the company is special. We try to help each other among co-workers and since there is a colleague of mine…. She has two children… we reciprocate Customer Care Assistant-Insurance Company Theres nothing that you can get…even if we have had state registered nannies, it wouldnt be worth it because they would charge…well if we got one to look after them you are looking 150 minimum per week, that would be my wifes week money gone; so shed be working basically to have the kids looked after; it wouldnt be worth it. I am working a 7 week rota and I work 3 Sundays and 4 Saturdays so I never get every other weekend off Train guard

12 Time for oneself: exploring the residual dimension of what remains after work and care. Well-being of the couple and of the individual. Parents tend to prioritize their childrens desires over their own. This is a part of the construction of a gender order. Gender differences and inequalities gender as both the form of cultural orientations and practices desires achieved or not time for oneself money for leisure. Time for relationships. Boundary work between public and private sphere. Choices and constraints.

13 (Un)achieved desires. Couples time, space, and commitment usually decrease after a childs birth. This loss of quality affects every respondent, regardless her/his social class, level of education or type of job. The lack of a large social network may negatively influence the quality of parents' time. Women are not able to dedicate time to leisure activity due to the fact that they have to take care of the children and the household, while in contrast, men's narratives depict this lack of time as due to the paramount level of work. Money: spending time with partners means finding somebody to take care of children. People who cannot rely on a wide social network sacrifice time for the couple in order to care for children low-income dual earner couples make a sort of work and care shift

14 Implications for policies Recasting parental leaves The generosity of duration and compensation of leave of all types is still a preliminary condition to any positive move towards gender equality. A more transparent negotiation is granted only when parents rights are socially enforced. Society must be responsible for leave policies. Caregiving leave and work-life balance The legal framework is important, but its interpreted differently according to countries, social and working conditions. Caregiving leaves should be part of a mix of flexible measures according to different parentss needs. Requirements for childcare The passage from a childcare discourse to a pedagogical discourse, that is from a custodial idea of service to one tailored to the changing exigencies of the child is definitely achieved across class and educational difference or differences among countries (except for Poland). Regarding childcare facilities, everywhere parents claim for better coverage, more qualified personnel as well as flexible use rather than longer opening hours. Social recognition of care The unequal distribution of unpaid care work among families – if not yet within familes - begins to be felt as seriously unfair especially because everywhere in Europe women tend to work full time.

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