Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Dividing the Domestic: Men, Women, and Household Work in a Cross-National Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Dividing the Domestic: Men, Women, and Household Work in a Cross-National Perspective

Article excerpt

Judith Tieas and SonjaDrobniè, Eds. DIVIDINGTHE DOMESTIC: MEN, WOMEN, AND HOUSEHOLD WORK IN A CROSS-NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010, 261 pp., $50.00, ISBN 13: 978-0-8047-6357-8.

In their positions as editors, Treas and Drobniè have made excellent selections both in the topics they have chosen to include and the scholars they have asked to contribute to their book, Dividing the Domestic: Men, Women, and Household Work in a Cross-National Perspective. Their own expertise on the topic of international similarities and differences in domestic labor clearly informs their examination of "how national context affects the very organization of intimate family life" (p.3). These contexts include social policies, cultural and attitudinal differences, the nature of work, differences in the welfare state, etc.

Written by researchers in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, and the United Kingdom, the book is as international in its authorship as its topics. Judith Treas's "Why Study Housework?" and Liana Say er 's "Trends in Housework" (chapters one and two respectively) provide comprehensive background material on the topic of domestic labor within intimate relationships. The two chapters offer readers an excellent introduction to the prior research, prevailing theories, and selected methodology of the study of household labor.

Part Two of the book focuses on The Political Economy of Housework. Tanja van der Lippe's "Chapter Three: Women's Employment and Housework," Lynne Prince Cooke's "Chapter Four: The Politics of Housework," Shirley Dex's "Chapter Five: Can State Policies Produce Equality in Housework?," and Sanjiv Gupta et al. 's "Chapter Six: Economic Inequality and Housework" all focus on macro-level correlates to domestic divisions of labor. Taken together, these chapters make it clear that macro-level welfare structures, social policies, and income inequalities play a role in amount of housework completed by women, but not necessarily by their husbands.

The next sub-section of the book (composed of "Chapter Seven: Cultural and Institutional Contexts" by Birgit Pfau-Effinger, "Chapter Eight: Beliefs about Maternal Employment" by Maria Charles and Erin Cech, "Chapter Nine: The Institution ofMarriage" by Carrie Yodanis, and "Chapter Ten: Pair Relationships and Housework" by Karl Alexander Röhler and Johannes Huinink) focuses on the impact that cultural influences have on domestic labor. …

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