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Experiences of the reconciliation of work and family life among French and Swedish families
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2006 (English)In: Enfances, Familles, Générations, ISSN 1708-6310, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates how social policy and norms affect experiences of the reconciliation of work and family life, using interviews with 40 families with young children from France and Sweden respectively. The major findings indicate that Swedish parents more often experience role conflicts and stress than French parents, thus giving stronger support for the role stress theory among Swedes. Swedes refer to lack of own time whereas particularly French women express dissatisfaction with the domestic division of labour with their partner. French parents favour individual childcare at home or care at the workplace more than Swedes, who emphasise public collective childcare.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Québec: Consortium Érudit , 2006. no 4
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4421OAI: diva2:143524
Available from: 2005-02-28 Created: 2005-02-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The care of children: A cross-national comparison of parents’ expectations and experiences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The care of children: A cross-national comparison of parents’ expectations and experiences
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As a point of departure, this thesis is motivated by the big changes which have taken place in most Western European countries since the 1970s, with an increase in female labour market participation and, to some extent, men’s increased share of the domestic work. There is also a debate as to whether France, having a fairly extensive family support,should be categorised as closer to the Scandinavian countries or together with countries with more restrictive family policy such as Italy and Germany, and thus belonging to the conservative regime cluster as defined by Gösta Esping-Andersen. The major topic of this thesis concerns what expectations parents have on childcare and how they experience the combination of care of children and participation in paid work. Two studies, based on quantitative macro-data, analyse and compare differences in primarily women’s employment in relation to family policy measures. The studies concern in addition to France and Sweden, also Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. The results indicate that the extensive family support system brings France closer to the Scandinavian countries. However, results based on 80 interviews made with 40 French and 40 Swedish families in the three following studies indicate that this may not be the case concerning factors like attitudes and values about the care of children and the reconciliation of work and family. Results indicate that values expressed in the French families point to a strong connection with values significant for countries in the conservative regime cluster. Major findings are that in the reconciliation of work and family, Swedes experience role stress more than French people, and in particular Swedish fathers. In France, on the other hand, mothers strongly express a feeling of dissatisfaction with their partner’s lack of participation in the household work. Regarding the attitudes to the paid parental leave (allocation parentale d’éducation- APE), French families’ arguments reflect that the policy does not promote fathers’ use of paid parental leave, and French mothers more than Swedish mothers refer to the weaker labour market situation as a reason for their use of the leave. Concerning expectations on childcare, French families more than Swedish families stress the importance of ‘upbringing,’ ‘learning’ and ‘socialisation,’ whereas Swedish families emphasise ‘pedagogy’ and that the staff recognises the individual child.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Sociologi, 2005. 26 p.
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508
Sociology, Childcare, Cross-national comparison, Family, Family policy, France, Gender, Parental leave, Qualitative studies, Role expansion theory, Role stress theory, Sweden, Sociologi
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-471 (URN)91-7305-831-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-03-18, Humanisthuset, Hörsal G, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2005-02-28 Created: 2005-02-28 Last updated: 2010-02-01Bibliographically approved

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