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Rethinking work-family conflict: dual-earner policies, role conflict and role expansion in Western Europe
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2010 (English)In: Journal of European Social Policy, ISSN 0958-9287, E-ISSN 1461-7269, Vol. 20, no 3, 179-195 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to deepen the understanding of work-family conflict and the impact of social policies by integrating the theoretical perspectives of role conflict and role expansion. First, we present a theoretical model identifying different mechanisms through which policy may affect both role conflict and role expansion, with a particular focus on dual-earner policies. Second, we examine some of its implications, using data from the European Social Survey comprising 10,950 employees in 15 countries. In contrast to traditional theories presenting conflict and expansion as mutually exclusive, we find that work—family conflict and experiences of role expansion, measured with indicators of life satisfaction and psychological well being, may go hand in hand. The results also indicate that such a balance is more common in countries with dual-earner policies than in other countries. Women committing as strongly to work as men experience more work-family conflict, but also high levels of well being and satisfaction. The findings largely support our theoretical arguments and imply that future research should examine the conflict-expansion nexus rather than focussing on either of the two. In this context, both gender and policy need to be considered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE Publications , 2010. Vol. 20, no 3, 179-195 p.
Keyword [en]
dual-earner families, gender, role expansion, social policy, well being, work–family conflict
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-35416DOI: 10.1177/0958928710364431ISI: 000279230500001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-35416DiVA: diva2:344149
Available from: 2010-08-18 Created: 2010-08-18 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Conflict and concord in work and family: Family policies and individuals' subjective experiences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conflict and concord in work and family: Family policies and individuals' subjective experiences
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background This thesis explores the relationship between individuals’ subjective experiences and the welfare state setting. The research questions in focus deal with the outcomes of women’s and men’s increasing dual roles in work and family in contemporary welfare states. The studies analyse women’s and men’s subjective experiences of combining work and family, and their perceptions of fairness in the division of household work.

Methods The thesis applies a comparative perspective where the unit of analysis is country and/or family policy model. A broad perspective with the aim to capture general patterns across a broad range of welfare states is combined with a narrower case-oriented approach. Multilevel analysis is used to analyse patterns at national as well as individual levels in the same model. Latent Class Analysis is used to capture patterns of latent dimensions with regard to the central concept of subject experiences.

Results The results indicate that the introduction of policies aiming to promote dual roles among women and men and the articulation of gender equality can matter for individuals’ subjective experiences of work-family conflict. In dual-earner countries, the probability that a high level of conflict is counterbalanced by feelings of life satisfaction is higher than in other policy models. A class asymmetry is found when it comes to effects of policy on men’s and women’s levels of work-family conflict and work-family satisfaction; women in the working class and the salaried class are more similar when it comes to experiences of work-family conflict and satisfaction in Sweden than in Germany and the UK. The analysis also shows that perceptions of fairness in the division of housework are moderated by the institutional and normative context. The politicisation of gender equality increases the correspondence between actual share of housework performed and the perceptions of fairness in the division of housework. The effect of politicisation is more important for men’s perceptions than for women’s.

Conclusion The thesis contributes to a deepened understanding of the relationship between policy and work-family conflict and the integration of the perspectives of role conflict and role expansion; knowledge about the ways in which both class and gender relations are structured concerning the patterns of work-family conflict and satisfaction in different policy contexts; and new knowledge about the relationship between policy and men’s – and not only women’s – perceptions of fairness in the division of household work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2012
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 70
Keyword
Work-family conflict, role expansion, family policy, gender, class, dual-earner families, household work, perceptions of fairness
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-61668 (URN)978-91-7459-526-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-12-14, Humanisthuset, Hörsal F, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-11-23 Created: 2012-11-22 Last updated: 2012-11-23Bibliographically approved

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