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Norwegian work-sharing couples project 30 years later: revisiting an experimental research project forgender equality in the family
Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
2009 (English)In: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, ISSN 2040-7149, E-ISSN 2040-7157, Vol. 28, no 4, 304-323 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to outline the background as well as methodological and epistemological aspects to, and the effects of, a follow-up study 30 years later of the work-sharing couples project, which is a Norwegian, experimental research project in the early 1970s. The aim of the project is to promote gender equality and a better work/life balance in families. In this paper the variation in work-sharing and post work-sharing trajectories over the life-course is explored, mainly focusing on the impact of the work-sharing arrangement on the couples’ relations, their work/life balance and the well-being of participants, the core objectives of the original project.

Design/methodology/approach – The original project has a small scale, interventionist design based on couples working part-time and sharing childcare and housework; effects on family life and gender equality are documented by questionnaires and time diaries. In the follow-up study, retrospective life-course couple interviews with the original participants are used.

Findings – Revisiting the original project produced new insights into, the subversive and radical use of sex-role theory in early Norwegian family sociology as an instrument of changing gender relations. In the follow-up study, the high level of participation and the long duration of the arrangement would seem to qualify for a heightened level of expectation as to the effects of the experiment on the participants’ lives. A high proportion of the couples are still married, and the work-sharing arrangement has been regarded by the majority of participants to have had a positive impact on their marital relation, work/life balance and well-being.

Practical implications – Insights gained from revisiting this project may prove fruitful when confronting contemporary dilemmas of work/life balance, as well as demographic and environmental challenges. Originality/value – The original project is unique internationally owing to its theoretically subversive, interventionist design and reformatory ambition. The longitudinal follow-up of the experiment is also unique in family research, and of great value for researchers into gender equality and the family.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 28, no 4, 304-323 p.
Keyword [en]
Norway, Gender, Family roles, Equal opportunities, Dual-career couples
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-37923DOI: 10.1108/02610150910954773OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-37923DiVA: diva2:757782
Note

Equal Opportunities International ended 2009

Now published as "Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal"

Available from: 2014-10-23 Created: 2014-10-23 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Modern men: A Norwegian 30-year longitudinal study of intergenerational transmission and social change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Modern men: A Norwegian 30-year longitudinal study of intergenerational transmission and social change
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation addresses men and change, intergenerational transmission, historical change and agency, employing as a case a longitudinal follow-up study over two generations of men, where the fathers participated in an experimental research project, the Work-Sharing Couples Project, which aimed to promote egalitarian work–family adaptations in Norway in the early 1970s. The original project was based on both spouses working part-time and shift parenting. The summary presents a multidimensional analysis of the work–family adaptations of the two generations of men: the untraditional adaptation of fathers in the 1970s; and the neo-traditional adaptations of sons in the 2000s. Their different work–family adaptations are discussed as situated agency, taking into account different aspects of time and space, personal biography, discursive and material structures of opportunity, and intergenerational dynamics at the family level as well as at social level.

The five articles present the empirical material: Bjørnholt (2009a) presents the impact on the couple relation and the family of the the parents’ work–sharing arrangement, concluding that the work-sharing arrangement was perceived by the participants to have been beneficial for their couple relationship as well as for the family as a whole. Bjørnholt (2011) explores the motivations of the work-sharing men to act as agents of change towards gender equality, concluding that personal biography, an authoritative way of being and new masculinity ideals, notably a partner- oriented masculinity, were important. Bjørnholt (2010b) analyses the consequences of the work-sharing arrangement on the work-sharing men’s careers, concluding that there were few negative career effects. They were rather successful, and their house-father experiences tended to be valued by employers as management skills. Bjørnholt (2009b) concludes that a father–son design is insufficient in explaining intergenerational transmission and Bjørnholt (2010c) finds that the untraditional work–family arrangement had not been passed on to sons.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university, 2014. 137 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Gender Research, 3
Keyword
fathering, intergenerational transmission, longitudinal qualitative research, masculinities, men, part-time, social change, work–family
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-34980 (URN)978-91-7529-027-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-10-09, Prismahuset, Hörsal 2, Örebro universitet, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-07 Created: 2014-05-07 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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