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Mine, yours or ours?: sharing in Swedish couples
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The topic of this thesis is the sharing of resources in families. Equal sharing has often been taken for granted by policy makers as well as researchers. However, a considerable body of research has now shown that unequal sharing can and does occur in families. The aim of this thesis has been to study sharing in Swedish couples and the degree to which equality can be said to exist in these. The outcomes of sharing, i e partners’ access to money and consumption have been a major focus, as has the negotiations that take place regarding sharing. The processes and mechanisms that are at play in discussions and negotiations about sharing have also been a major focus. Money and consumption are in focus, however other resources such as leisure time and housework are also addressed.

The studies are based on an in-depth interview study with ten Swedish couples where each spouse was interviewed separately; in addition, a survey study of Swedish couples is also utilized. The results of all of the four studies support earlier studies that show that unequal sharing in couples does in fact exist; women seem to experience less access to money and consumption more often than their partners. Several mechanisms were found to be at work shaping patterns of sharing. Pooling money was a common way of regarding the family economy, however it seemed this was not necessarily accompanied by an organization of money that facilitated pooling. Pooling was not necessarily a reflection of equal sharing as it is often assumed to be; instead, it could conceal inequality in that negotiations about sharing were kept off of the agenda. The gendered division of labor that still exists in Swedish society as well as in Swedish families means that women seem to have more knowledge of the needs of the family. This knowledge, which is often lacked by their spouses, also seems to mean that women take on the responsibility of seeing to it that ends are met. This could result in women sacrificing their own personal spending and using money meant for themselves as an economic buffer for the benefit of the family, something that was not found regarding men. In addition, details of the system of financial management used can sometimes act as an obstacle for women’s job of making ends meet and for their personal spending. Another important aspect of sharing in families is how money is defined. Different money can be defined differently and its definition will influence how it is shared and used. The continuous re-defining of money that takes place in families means that money’s meaning can change over time. Money was found to be relational; how it is understood and defined is influenced by its social context; how it is used can also give meaning to actions and influence the balance of power in couples. Several of the studies found support for the resource theory of marital power, however this alone could not explain women’s poorer access to money and consumption. Cultural aspects such as notions about gender and family must also be considered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, sociologiska institutionen , 2002. , 34 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 24
Keyword [en]
Sociology, Money, Sharing, Economy, Family, Couples, Resources, Sweden, Gender equality
Keyword [sv]
Sociologi, familjeekonomi
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-200ISBN: 91-7305-169-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-200DiVA: diva2:142623
Public defence
2002-02-01, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Supervisors
Available from: 2004-02-24 Created: 2004-02-24 Last updated: 2009-06-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Gender equality in ‘the most equal country in the world’?: Money and marriage in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gender equality in ‘the most equal country in the world’?: Money and marriage in Sweden
1999 (English)In: Sociological Review, ISSN 0038-0261, Vol. 47, no 4, 766-793 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyses how Swedish couples perceive the sharing of money and consumption between themselves and their partner. Interviews were conducted with ten Swedish married couples. Each spouse was interviewed separately about their incomes, financial organization, patterns of consumption, views about money and decision-making. Regardless of whether they pooled their incomes or kept money separately, all were in agreement about the importance of equal sharing and access to money and consumption. Despite stated goals of gender equality, however, consumption was not perceived as being shared equally. Two factors central to understanding this were the ways that daily finances were managed and the fact that women had responsibility for the daily finances of the family. Another important aspect was the ways that items of consumption were defined. Food and children's clothes were areas that were in a 'grey zone' regarding which money was used to pay for them, and they often fell to the woman. This practical responsibility and associated awareness of the family economy serve as obstacles to women's sense of entitlement and access to money for personal discretionary spending, a problem not experienced by men.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley Interscience, 1999
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-3757 (URN)
Available from: 2004-02-24 Created: 2004-02-24Bibliographically approved
2. Fair or unfair? Perceived fairness of household division of labour and gender equality among Swedish women and men: the Swedish case.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fair or unfair? Perceived fairness of household division of labour and gender equality among Swedish women and men: the Swedish case.
2003 (English)In: The European Journal of Women's Studies, ISSN 1350-5068, E-ISSN 1461-7420, Vol. 10, no 2, 181-209 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The main aim of this study is to analyse how time use, individual resources, distributive justice and gender ideology influence perceptions of fairness concerning housework and gender equality. The analyses are based on survey data as well as on an interview study, both including Swedish couples. The quantitative results show that it is only factors connected to time use (division of housework and leisure time) that are significantly correlated to both perceptions of fairness concerning division of household labour and gender equality. Although the qualitative results in part confirm this picture, they also illustrate the complexity of concepts like fairness and equality. The interviews show that there are several factors and mechanisms at work in influencing perceptions of fairness and equality that were not possible to see from the quantitative analysis alone.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Sage Publications, 2003
Keyword
distributive justice, fairness, gender equality, gender ideology, housework, men, resources, time use, women
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-3758 (URN)10.1177/1350506803010002004 (DOI)000182890200004 ()
External cooperation:
Available from: 2004-02-24 Created: 2004-02-24 Last updated: 2016-08-26Bibliographically approved
3. The social nature of money: Meanings of money in Swedish families
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The social nature of money: Meanings of money in Swedish families
2003 (English)In: Women's Studies: International Forum, ISSN 0277-5395, Vol. 26, no 1, 79-94 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article is based on a study of 10 married Swedish couples considering the different meanings money acquires and the implications of these meanings for individuals' access to money and consumption. The article examines the ways in which money and its use can create meaning and construct acts in couple relationships. The findings show that there are several kinds of 'special' monies. Money is often defined in terms of ownership and the data illustrate a variety of ways of defining money as jointly or privately owned. Family needs are central in defining money, but personal ownership of money is also important. Despite Swedish perceptions of gender equality and sharing, the data demonstrate persisting inequalities in terms of money. While using private money for family needs can express love and trust, it can also maintain the existing balance of power. The data support theories of gender system and gender contracts and the article argues that money is one way of shaping couple relations, while being also shaped by couple and other social relationships. Support was also found for the resource theory of power in that higher earnings and perceptions of ownership of money meant more control over money.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier Science, Ltd, 2003
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-3759 (URN)
Available from: 2004-02-24 Created: 2004-02-24 Last updated: 2009-06-10Bibliographically approved
4. Money and consumption in Swedish couples: Women's and men's access to personal spending money and consumption
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Money and consumption in Swedish couples: Women's and men's access to personal spending money and consumption
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to determine whether inequalities exist between Swedish women's and men's access to personal spending money and comsumption. The analyses are based on survey data from 1998 of 489 Swedish couples. The results indicate that control over financial decisions, money management and spouses' relative incomes are only marginally important for their access to personal spending money and consumption, which is in sharp contrast to the results from several previous studies. Main interpretations of the results have as their point of departure the for Sweden unique widespread egalitarian gender ideology and women's labour market participation and subsequent economic independence.

Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-3760 (URN)
Available from: 2004-02-24 Created: 2004-02-24Bibliographically approved

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