Women, Work, and the Family in Europe

Women, Work, and the Family in Europe

Women, Work, and the Family in Europe

Women, Work, and the Family in Europe

Synopsis

This book provides a new and timely analysis of major changes in society within the extended European Union, by addressing the consequences of altered family forms, the restructuring of labour markets and the conflicting demands of family and working life. Leading experts from across Europe cover a broad range of major issues in a national and comparative context. Theses include: * family policy * gender roles * care of elderly * demographic trends. Clearly written, systematic and comprehensive, this book reflects the growing interest in the European context and will appeal to students of social policy and European studies as well as all those involved in women's studies and sociology.

Excerpt

The reconciliation of family and working life is one of the most pressing policy and political issues facing all European societies. This volume is a timely collection of up-to-date theoretical and empirical work on this issue from all corners of the European Union. There are rapid and dramatic changes in the extent to which women, and men, engage in caring in families and participate in paid employment. The elucidation of the reasons for such changes is important for both social theory and public policy.

The balancing of intimate personal life and the production of the means to live has always been an issue for society and social scientists. The care of the young, the old and those unable to look after themselves has often been performed by women in families and communities outside of the market economy. What makes this question of such pressing concern today are the enormous changes that have been taking place in gender relations in society, in particular the rise of women’s employment and the declining significance of marriage. Whether these changes are giving rise to greater social justice for women, or merely greater poverty is one of the questions to be addressed.

The balancing of family and working life is very different in the various countries of the European Union. These differences are not simple—it is not that women either do paid work or housework. Rather, there are extremely complex patterns and rapid previously unpredicted changes. For instance, the countries where women are having the fewest babies are not those where the rates of women’s participation in paid employment are highest, but rather among the lowest, that is the southern European countries of Italy, Spain and Greece. The forms of household and family structure are both varied and changing, with an increasing tendency for women to live outside of marriage. The nature of employment is changing with the rise of ‘flexible’ or casualised forms of employment, for instance, part-time work among women. The forms of patriarchy are changing in complex ways.

There are a range of state policies which potentially affect the balance of domestic activities and paid employment including: those which provide an infrastructure facilitating the employment of carers, such as socialised forms of child and elder care and parental leave arrangements; as well as natalist policies, . . .

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