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Working it out: strategies to reconcile paid work and family among Swedish lone mothers
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8068-2667
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7091-3348
2013 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The gendered nature of the struggle to integrate caring, family and paid work has been repeatedly demonstrated. Most research, however, has focused on dual parent families. This paper discusses work-family conflict in the everyday lives of lone mothers in Sweden. We use an agency-centered framework inspired by the capabilities approach, which emphasizes that the options of an individual depend greatly on institutions and relations with others. Drawing on 38 in-depth interviews with lone mothers from different social backgrounds we explore i) how the proper relationship between motherhood and paid work is conceived of, ii) the institutional and relational factors that influence lone mothers’ opportunities to attain work-life balance, and iii) the strategies employed in negotiating paid work and family. Our results show that paid work is integral to good motherhood to all lone mothers regardless of social class. They also show that lone mothers typically experience high levels of work-family conflict. Opportunities to reconcile paid work and family depend on employment conditions, accessibility to social support networks, the role of the absent father, household composition, and access to public childcare on unregularly hours. In the case of middle class mothers, blurred boundaries between work and family life, late meetings and work related traveling restrict opportunities to attain work-family balance. For low income and/or working class mothers temporal employment, unregular working hours and low earnings are significant constraining factors. Reducing working hours, negotiating working schedules with employers and colleagues, and asking relatives and friends for help are examples of strategies used to reduce work-life conflicts. Reducing travelling time between the job and the home by moving from one place to another, and moving closer to relatives to increase the chances to get practical support are other examples. While middle-class women typically used flexi-time at work to alleviate conflicts between different responsibilities, several low-income mothers changed jobs or invested in education in order to improve their situation

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-32487OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-32487DiVA, id: diva2:665943
Conference
Rethinking agency: Acting in practice, acting together, Bradford, UK, November 14-15, 2013
Projects
Lone Mothers and Long Hours. Gender and work in a new welfare regime.
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilAvailable from: 2013-11-21 Created: 2013-11-21 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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Alsarve [Ahlberg], JennyRoman, Christine

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
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  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
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  • asciidoc
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