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Work-family conflict in the Nordic countries: a comparative analysis
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2012 (English)In: Journal of Comparative Family Studies, ISSN 0047-2328, Vol. 43, no 2, 165-184 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to examine men's and women's subjective experiences of work-family conflict in the Nordic welfare states. These countries are often considered to be frontrunners with regard to gender equality, especially regarding the provision of policies that aim to support the reconciliation between work and family life. However, previous research has produced divergent results in response to the question of whether the welfare state institutions of the Nordic countries help to reduce work-family conflict. Do supportive institutions matter, or is the household division of labour of greater importance regarding experiences of work-family conflict? Drawing on data from the 2002 module of the International Social Survey Programme, the analyses indicate that experiences of work-family conflict among Nordic men and women can be divided into three clusters: work-family balance, occupational work overload, and dual work overload. In spite of their shorter working hours, women experience higher levels of work-family conflict than men. An unfair division of housework also increases work-family conflict. In the main, experiences of work-family conflict do not differ greatly among the Nordic countries, with the exception of Finland, where the level is lower than in the other countries. This points to a difference within the Nordic welfare state regime regarding the transition towards gender equality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Calgary, Canada: Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Department of Scoiology, University of Calgary, Canada , 2012. Vol. 43, no 2, 165-184 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-55042ISI: 000302526500003OAI: diva2:525240
Available from: 2012-05-09 Created: 2012-05-07 Last updated: 2012-11-22Bibliographically 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
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 70
Work-family conflict, role expansion, family policy, gender, class, dual-earner families, household work, perceptions of fairness
National Category
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)
Available from: 2012-11-23 Created: 2012-11-22 Last updated: 2012-11-23Bibliographically approved

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