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Family, class and gender strategies in mothers employment and childcare Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette City University.

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Presentation on theme: "Family, class and gender strategies in mothers employment and childcare Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette City University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Family, class and gender strategies in mothers employment and childcare Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette City University

2 Class reproduction: economic, cultural? Agreement that class reproduction occurs largely via family (Goldthorpe, Bourdieu). Goldthorpe argues that economic constraints determine class choices (RAT) Bourdieu (and e.g. Reay, Ball, Devine) argue that cultural resources are also significant. Both will contribute to class reproduction, in this paper we (tentatively) explore their relative significance.

3 Pitfalls of cultural and individualisation explanations Blaming the victims – e.g. underclass theories (Murray) that claimed that poverty was a consequence of the moral deficiencies of the poor. More generally, social outcomes are seen as a consequence of individual choices (Hakim) – individualisation (Beck) individuals forced to choose in reflexive modernity. Danger of displacing accounts of inequality from structure to individual.

4 Methods BSA/BHPS data sets 90+ work-life interviews carried out as part of GeNet Project 7 (with male and female doctors, accountants, and employees in finance and retail, all with a child under 14). Professional and managerial respondents over- represented amongst our interviewees. The major class comparative strategy we employ is between professional/managerial and intermediate/routine and manual.

5 Choosing a family strategy No difference between professional/managerial and intermediate/rm as to whether they had planned ahead in advance of having a family. BUT Differences in reasons given for the mother going back to work. Intermediate/RM emphasised material need: We knew, she knew she had to go back to work because thats what happened, thats what you had to do, because there was no money (R5, male retail, intermediate). Professional/managerial emphasised the mothers self-fulfilment: I do sometimes feel guilty myself… but I know Id be a dreadful stay at home mum. Id be really awful, and Im a much better mum for not being there… And my mum didnt work, and I think I always resented her for that whole martyr being at home, running around after the men all the time … and I just looked at her and went I dont want any of that, thank you (F12, female finance, professional/managerial).

6 Professional/managerial – 66% used nursery/nanny; intermediate/RM – 66% used grandparental help (multiple response) For Intermediate/RM grandparental help was often absolutely essential to enable the mother to take up paid employment: So on the three days that she (wife) works, one set of grandparents has her two days and one has her for one day, and on Saturday mornings while (wifes) doing nails (a second part-time job as a manicurist), I have her, so were spoilt really…. If we were paying for childcare, I dont know that we would have a child to be honest… Childcare probably wouldnt have made it worthwhile my wife carrying on working (R10, male retail, intermediate). for Professional/managerials, grandparental help was family time: And do your parents-in-law help out at all? I mean you said they live just... Not on that basis. They did take two of them on a Wednesday morning just for, I dont know, it was just for sort of special granny time. And they also certainly help out with babysitting in the evenings and things like that if we ever go out (M1, male GP, professional/managerial). Childcare and grandparental help

7 A pre-school child suffers if his or her mother goes out to work. BHPS 2005, 5-category ONS-SEC classification (men and women in a partnership with a child under the age of twelve) (Weighted %) Prof/man.IntermediateSmall empl. & own account Lower sups & technical Semi & routine Total MenAgree/strongly agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree/strongly disagree Total % % % % % % WomenAgree/strongly agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree/strongly disagree Total % % % % % %

8 Class and gender difference in attitudes to non-maternal care Women: class differences in expected direction, prof/man women significantly less likely to think a child suffers (chi-square ; d.f.=8; p<0.001) Men significantly (p<0.001) more traditional than women, but no consistent class pattern. Check revealed that same cross-cutting class/gender pattern discernible in 1991, although over time attitudes have become more liberal for both sexes. Prof/man women who stay at home (a minority) with young children are very similar in attitude to intermediate/routine man women. Class differences suggest that prof/man women are better able to exercise choices.

9 Does a pre-school child suffer? (continued) Asked the same question of all our interviewees. Gender differences very apparent – many more male than female interviewees thought that a child would suffer without maternal care. Numbers too small to explore class differences. But interesting differences in class rationales concerning pre-school care. Major similarity in that social value of childcare emphasised across classes: I mean I would say hes a very confident little boy, argues like mad and hes only four, it drives me mad. And hes got his confidence I would say 50% from nursery really, from interacting with the other kids, and hes been in nursery since he was four months old (M20, female GP, professional/managerial). I look at, I look at (daughter), shes always been around my child minder and her three kids. … and I look at like my brothers kids before they went to school, they were very shy, you know, they were at home at lot whereas (daughters) very social, you know, shes not a shy girl and she interacts very well (R1, female retail, intermediate).

10 Professional/managerial scientific childcare rationales I think its a very bad thing to be where the mother at home whos depressed or who isnt able to stimulate children or doesnt have a choice, you know I think that can be as worse. I think if you got a depressed mother – I dont want to stereotype – a mother whos not equipped at the current time for whatever reason not to be a great mum, I think there some nursery support or nursery education can be very positive (F12, female finance, professional/managerial). But I also think the child suffers if, if somebody is full time at home, its vital that whoevers at home recognises the childs needs for social development and, and probably slightly more creative play because I know that we would not get the paints out for (daughter) as often as she does at nursery and Im reassured by the fact that, that she does actually do painting at nursery. … I think, I think, Ive seen a lot of stay at home mums who I think do actually choke their childs development by not exposing them to a sufficient variety of environments (M15, male GP, professional/managerial).

11 Conclusions Evidence of class variation in discourse(s) surrounding family strategies in mothers employment and childcare. BUT the major factors shaping outcomes in respect of both were the structures of opportunities and constraints faced by the couple – economic rather than cultural explanation Implications for policy: report of the Equalities Review: Fairness and Freedom; individual emphasis: A large part of what will unseat entrenched inequalities will lie in what communities and families do for themselves, and barriers to aspiration must be removed (HMSO, 2007: 45). But high quality, universal childcare most likely to reduce class inequalities in this area. Gender differences on these topics important, need to explore more. These are especially noticeable as between professional and managerial men and women.

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