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Between money and love: Dilemmas in the everyday lives of low income lone mothers in Sweden
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. (Arbete, familj och nära relationer)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7091-3348
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Statistics suggest that lone mother families have become an increasingly vulnerable group in Sweden. Their standard of living is low compared to other families. The numbers who are on non-permanent employment contracts or unemployed have increased. Mothers with a lower education are particularly exposed. We have conducted a qualitative study with 39 Swedish lone mothers with different occupational and social backgrounds. This paper takes a deeper look at challenges faced by 16 working-class and low-income lone mothers. The aim is to provide a better understanding of the ways in which working conditions and economic resources impact on mothers’ opportunities to balance paid work and family. Mothers are seen as actors whose conduct is guided by cultural ideas about the right and proper way to be a mother and worker. Thematic analysis was used explore themes in the data. Results show that disjunctions between aspirations and access to means for their realization gave rise to conflicts and dilemmas. It also fostered feelings of guilt and shame. Lack of financial resources resulted in a sense of relative deprivation and significantly limited mothers’ opportunities to practice the kind of mothering they preferred. Facing the money–care dilemma, mothers could not effectively use some of the rights granted to Swedish parents, i.e. to reduce working hours and stay at home with sick children. To provide for the family they had to spend long hours at work, meaning less time to devote to their children. Inflexible jobs, nonstandard hours and temporary employment aggravated conflicts.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Low income and working class Swedish mothers, work-family reconciliation, control over work, economic resources, structural ambivalence, relative deprivation
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-53812OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-53812DiVA: diva2:1052414
8th Congress of the European Society on Family Relations (ESFR), Dortmund, Germany, August 31 - September 3, 2016
Ensam mamma i en flexibel ekonomi
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2016-12-06 Created: 2016-12-06 Last updated: 2016-12-07Bibliographically approved

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Roman, Christine
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School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden

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