Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Earning & Caring in Canadian Families

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Earning & Caring in Canadian Families

Article excerpt

BEAUJOT, Roderic, EARNING & CARING IN CANADIAN FAMILIES, Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 1999,416 pp., $22.95 US / $29.95 Cdn. L14.95 hardcover.

Earning & Caring deserves an important place in the Canadian literature on families. It includes a comprehensive review of the theoretical and empirical literature in family sociology and family demography, it uses numerous surveys and other empirical evidence to illustrate the main arguments, and combines admirably a family, work, and gender perspective. The book focuses on the theme `earnings and caring', on its constraints, dynamics, and gender dimension. While other books often examine earnings (paid work), and caring (unpaid work) separately, Beaujot examines them together - as the most important balancing act of today's families. The book also innovates in avoiding a traditional family life-cycle approach (which no longer captures the experiences of most families) and in avoiding an exclusive focus on women. Instead, the gender dimension is omnipresent throughout the book. The book also brings an interesting dimension in examining families in their social, economic, and political context, and thus in examining the social policies and other macro-level factors that shape the realities and experiences of families.

The book starts with a theoretical discussion of family and work that covers both classical and feminist theories (Chapter 1). This provides the backbone for the study of the 'links between the public and private spheres' (p. 47). The book then moves to the gender context (Chapter 2), changing families (Chapter 3), paid work and family income (Chapter 4), unpaid work and the division of productive activities (Chapter 5), fertility (Chapter 6), children and youth (Chapter 7), and policy dimensions (Chapter 8). Chapters 4 and 5 are the most important ones in terms of their contribution to the literature. It is here that Beaujot links paid and unpaid work, the private and public spheres, women's and men's contributions, all within the unifying theme of family strategies.

The focus is obviously on Canadian families. The empirical data is drawn from Canadian sources, and the review of the literature draws attention to important Canadian studies/ authors (usually overlooked in American textbooks). …

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