Social Change and the Experience of Unemployment

By Duncan Gallie; Catherine Marsh et al. | Go to book overview

8
Unemployment, the Household, and Social Networks

DUNCAN GALLIE, JONATHAN GERSHUNY, AND CAROLYN VOGLER


1. INTRODUCTION

Most research on the social consequences of unemployment has tended to focus on its implications for the individual. In particular, it has shown that the loss of work leads to a marked rise in anxiety and depression ( Warr 1987). However, some of the earliest qualitative studies ( Bakke 1935, 1940a,b; Komarovsky 1940) also suggested that unemployment had major implications for the quality of household relations and for the relationship between the household and the wider community ( Jahodaet al. 1972). In particular, it was seen as leading to a shift in roles within the household and to the increased social isolation of unemployed people. Both of these factors were seen as reinforcing the psychological distress generated by unemployment.

A salient finding of the inter-war studies was that unemployment placed greater responsibility for financial management on the female partner ( Bakke 1940b). At the same time, it posed significant problems for male gender identity, given the identification of the male with the bread-winning role. More recent discussion has focused on the implications of unemployment for changes in the pattern of domestic work. The evidence here is very inconsistent. Some studies have suggested that unemployment is unlikely to lead to significant renegotiation of domestic roles ( Pahl 1984; Morris 1985). Research using time budget data ( Thomaset al. 1985; Gershunyet al. 1986), however, points to a rather more marked change in male participation in household tasks with unemployment.

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