Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Emotion Work; Family Life; Unpaid Work.

Dilworth, J. E. L. (2004). Predictors of negative spillover from family to work. Journal of Family Issues, 25(2), 241-261.


Prior research has inconsistently documented the gendered nature of negative spillover between the domains of home & work. Little is known about predictors of negative spillover for employed mothers & fathers. Using the 1997 wave of the National Study of the Changing Workforce, this study's purpose was twofold: to determine if a difference exists in negative spillover for working mothers & fathers & to identify shared & unique predictors of spillover for both groups. Findings reveal that more working mothers than fathers in the sample experienced negative family-to-work spillover. Time spent performing household chores & caring for children by respondent & spouse did not predict negative spillover for mothers, although caring for a sick child was a significant predictor for fathers. Marital satisfaction was not a significant predictor of spillover, whereas family life satisfaction was one of the strongest predictors for both mothers & fathers.
KEY WORDS: Family-Work Relationship; Role Conflict; Dual Career Family; Housework; Working Mothers; Working Men; Fathers; Marital Satisfaction; Life Satisfaction; Household Work.

Dixon, J., & Wetherell, M. (2004). On discourse and dirty nappies: Gender, the division of household labour and the social psychology of distributive justice. Theory & Psychology, 14(2), 167-189.


The authors evaluate recent developments in research on the domestic division of labour with a focus on the Distributive Justice Framework developed by Thompson (1991) in an extension of Major's (1987) work on the psychology of entitlement. This framework states that in order to explain the persistence of gender inequalities in domestic labour, researchers must consider the factors that determine women's sense of fairness in close relationships. Whilst recognizing its contribution to the field, the article argues that existing work on the Distributive Justice Framework has misconceived important aspects of the social psychology of distributive justice. By way of contrast, an approach is advanced that is grounded in the analysis of everyday discursive practices in the home--the practices through which couples define their contributions to household labour and negotiate ideological dilemmas about gender, entitlement and fair shares. Argued are the investigations of gender inequalities in domestic labour can benefit from the new directions provided by social constructionism, as well as the more complex views of subjectivity, power and social interaction that are now emerging in psychology.
KEY WORDS: Division of Labor; Household Management; Human Sex Differences; Justice; Social Psychology; Household Work.

Dodson, L., & Dickert, J. (2004). Girls' family labor in low-income households: A decade of qualitative research. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(2), 318-332.


This article analyzes a decade of qualitative research to identify & explore an overlooked survival strategy used in low-income families: children's family labor. Defined as physical duties, caregiving, & household management responsibilities, children's - most often girls' - family labor is posited as a critical source of support where low wages & absent adult caregivers leave children to take over essential, complex, & time-consuming family demands. We argue that there are lost opportunities when children are detoured from childhood to do family labor & that an intergenerational transfer of poverty is associated with those losses.
KEY WORDS: Children; Females; Housework; Caregivers; Low Income Groups; Household Work.

Dolfsma, W., & Hoppe, H. (2003). On feminist economics. Feminist Review, 75, 118-128.


Feminist economics draws increasing attention from professional mainstream economists. In this paper, we discuss methodological issues, some theoretical developments - notably on the household - and issues of economic policy. We point to parallels between feminist economics and institutional economics, and argue that these relations might be strengthened to the benefit of both.
KEY WORDS: Economics; Feminist Theory; Economic Policy; Households; Household Work.

Doucet, A. (2000). 'There's a huge gulf between me as a male carer and women': Gender, domestic responsibility, and the community as an institutional arena. Community, Work & Family, 3(2), 163-184.


Explored is the persistent link between women and domestic responsibility, a heavily documented link and not often theorized. Drawing on a qualitative research project with a "critical case" study sample of couples trying to share housework & childcare in GB in the early 1990s, the author argues that part of this puzzle linking women & domestic responsibility can be addressed by adopting wider definitions of domestic responsibility and community. Domestic responsibility is often conceived as family labor that occurs within families /households, it also has inter-household, inter-institutional, and community dimensions. With regard to a wider conceptualization of the community, argued is that the community is more than a social institution; it is an institutional arena within which families/households, inter-household relations, community-based social networks, and a wide array of community activities occur. Overall findings and implications of the research presented are threefold. First, gendered socially constructed norms and gendered community-based social networks are highlighted as important factors that help to account for the persistent link between women and domestic responsibility. Second, taking cues from research carried out in Third World & low-income Western communities, it is important to shift research agendas on domestic divisions of labor to focus not only on intro-household divisions, but also inter-household & intra-community relations. Third, the need is highlighted for greater attention to the links between socially constructed norms on masculinities, men's friendships & domestic responsibility.
KEY WORDS: Childrearing Practices; Sexual Division of Labor; Housework; Communities; Social Institutions; Social Constructionism; Social Networks; Norms; Family Roles; Couples; England; Sex Roles; Women's Roles; Household Work.

Duffy, M. (2007). Doing the dirty work. Gender, race and reproductive labor in historical perspective. Gender & Society, 21(3), 313-336.


This paper discusses the transformation of paid reproductive labour which has changed the demographics of workers who clean and cook. The concept of reproductive labour is key to an analysis of gender inequality, including understanding the devaluation of traditional "women's work" of cleaning, cooking and child care, as it evolves into the paid labour force. The 1950s housewife was only part of the story: Black women, immigrant women and the working poor have always had to work outside the home in a waged labour market.

This article presents historical census data that to show the transformation of paid reproductive labour during the twentieth century. As the context for cleaning and cooking shifted from private household servants to more institutional models, the gender balance of this reproductive labour workforce was transformed, even as racial-ethnic hierarchies remained entrenched.

This article identifies the challenges of understanding occupational segregation and the devaluation of reproductive labour in ways that analyze gender and race-ethnicity. Integration of cultural and structural explanations of occupational degradation are vital.
KEY WORDS: Care Work; Reproductive Labour; Occupational Segregation; Domestic Service.

Eichler, M. (2005). The other half (or more) of the story: Unpaid household and care work and lifelong learning. In N. Bascia, Cumming, A, Datnow, A., Leithwood, K., Livingstone, D. (Ed.), International Handbook of Educational Policy (Vol. 2) (pp. 1023-1042). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.


... It is clear that studying lifelong learning through unpaid housework is both an interesting and important topic. It will also shed new light on our understanding of lifelong learning in the paid labour force, by providing a test site for the generalizations that have been made in that setting. For instance, we need to reconsider how incentives interact with motivations to learn given the vast amount of learning that happens without subsequent job advancement. We can explore the benefits to civil society if we were to provide non-formal training on housework-related issues (oriented to members of both sexes, of course!). We can investigate what knowledge has been gained and lost with respect to both paid and unpaid work. Drawing on Butler’s (1993) work, we can test for and recognize knowledge that has been acquired through running a household, both for credit at educational institutions and for paid work. We need to explore the capacity to adapt to changes that is generated through involvement in housework and caring work, and utilize it in the paid labour force. This could become a potent argument for fostering the advancement of women into managerial positions.

Clearly, then, extending the investigation of lifelong learning to include unpaid housework and care work is not only valuable for understanding for its own sake, but also for understanding the whole process of lifelong learning better. (From conclusion)


KEY WORDS: Lifelong Learning; Housework; Adult Education.

Eichler, M., & Matthews, A. (2004). What is work? Looking at all work through the lens of unpaid housework. Retrieved September 25, 2006, from http://www.wallnetwork.ca/events/WhatisWork.pdf


Without any doubt, work is one of the most important issues for sociology to grapple with. Sociologists have long been concerned about the type of work we do, the conditions under which we perform it, the social relations that both create these conditions and arise from them, etc. But what is work? Various sociological dictionaries define work in a manner that includes paid work as well as unpaid housework, only to proceed to immediately exclude the latter from consideration. (From introduction)
KEY WORDS: Lifelong Learning; Housework; Adult Education.

Erickson, R. J. (2005). Why emotion work matters: Sex, gender, and the division of household labor. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 337-351.


Erickson notes that household labour researchers have not adequately addressed the terrain of emotion work in their studies (see also Coltrane, 2000). She expands the definition of household work and child care, to include emotion work in order to discuss an understanding of culturally based constructions of gender as a reason for the continued imbalance of the division of household labour. Household labour persistently indicates that women are performing the bulk of housework and child care. (Coltrane, 2000; Shelton & John, 1996).

Erickson uses survey data form 335 employed, married parents to examine the influence of economic resources, time, gender ideology, sex and gender on the performance of child care, household work and emotion work. Findings indicate that gendered constructions of identity are related to the symbolic importance of how people "do" gender. This affects the meaning associated with household tasks including emotion work in family life. Her results indicate it is gender construction, not sex, that predicts the performance of emotion work and this is a key difference in male/female gendered constructions of self.


KEY WORDS: Division of Household Labour; Emotion Work; Family Work; Gender; Gender Differences.

Estes, S. B., Noonan, M. C., & Maume, D. J. (2007). Is work-family policy use related to the gendered division of housework? Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28(4), 527-545.


Work-family policy use may support or thwart the gendered division of labour within couples, but these authors identify that results from previous studies have been inconclusive in this area. In this study, the authors have tested whether work-family policy use is related to a more or less equal division of housework among dual-earner couples.

Gender scholars have pointed out that all housework is not equal. Housework does not comprise all of domestic labour; childcare and emotion work are also components of domestic labour. Emotional labour and child care are more likely to be done by women than men. Housework in this study was categorized as female and male.

Results show that among women in dual-earning relationships, policy use is not related to the share of female- or male-typed tasks. Among dual-earning men, policy use is positively related to share of female-typed tasks and negatively related to share of male-typed tasks. The ratio of men's earnings to total family income was negatively related to share of female-typed tasks, a finding consistent with the notion that financial resources are transformed into power in housework negotiations (Ross 1987).

These findings suggest that work-family policy use per se does not reinforce the gendered division of housework. However, it is also possible that individuals who have substantial housework responsibility are more apt to use family supportive policies, or even to take jobs offering work-family policies.


KEY WORDS: Family; Gender; Housework; Work.

Fuwa, M., & Cohen, P. N. (2007). Housework and social policy. Social Science Research, 36(2), 512-530.


Research on the division of household labour has started to move beyond the individual level of analysis based on characteristics such as income, education and attitude. This paper discusses the effects of social policy related to women's employment and work-family conflict in relation to the division of household labor in 33 countries. Specific policies have direct effects on micro-level dynamics of sharing housework in the home. Policies based on Chang's (2000) typology are classified in relation to the labour market, such as "equality of access" or "presence of affirmative action"; and in relation to substantive benefits such as parental leave and child care services. The gendered division of household labour is affected by both the individual negotiation between women and men and the larger social context in which they live. Even though more women are engaged with the labour market, they perform most of the unpaid labour in industrialized countries, reproducing gender inequality in the family and creating conflict between spouses. This study finds that countries with a policy framework that discourages prohibition of certain types of employment for women, and promotes longer parental leave, exhibit a more egalitarian division of housework at the micro level. However, longer parental leave policy is associated with weaker effects of women's full-time employment. Longer parental leave can reinforce gendered roles in the home further internalizing ideology about household labour as women's work. State family policies can be seen as structuring the role of women in society both in the home and through occupational segregation in the labour market, when family leave policies essentially presume women's roles as wives and mothers.
KEY WORDS: Housework; Social Policy; Gender; Work Family Policy.

Gazso-Windle, A., & McMullin, J. A. (2003). Doing domestic labour: Strategising in a gendered domain. Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie, 28(3), 341-366.


The authors ask how pragmatic strategies (time availability, time demands, & resources) and patriarchal dynamics (sex & gender ideology [McFarland, Beaujot & Haddad, 2000]) affect the time that men and women spend doing domestic labor. Data from the 1995 General Social Survey show that women spend more time doing domestic labor then men and that pragmatic strategies & patriarchal dynamics are associated with time spent doing housework and child care. Gender ideology is a complex, multidimensional factor that affects the time women & men spend in housework & child care. Results point to the importance of including pragmatic strategies and patriarchal dynamics in assessments of domestic labor. Findings provide compelling evidence of how the relationships among individual agency, broader ideological assumptions, and time spent doing domestic labor are intricately interwoven.
KEY WORDS: Sexual Division of Labor; Housework; Childrearing Practices; Sex Role Attitudes; Time Utilization; Canada; Household Work.

Glauber, R. (2007). Marriage and the motherhood wage penalty among African Americans, Hispanics and whites. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69(4), 951-961.


This study examines the moderating effects of race and marriage on the motherhood wage penalty. Prior research has not simultaneously estimated the moderating effects of marital and racial statuses.

The author used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (N=5929) which is a representative cohort of U.S. women born between 1957 and 1965. The sample included White, African American and Hispanic women who provided a total of 66,859 person-year observations conducted as interviews annually or biannually. New findings are that there are racial differences among mothers and these differences persist even after controlling for racial differences in marriage rates (2007:954).

For Hispanic women, motherhood is not associated with a wage penalty. For African Americans, only married mothers with more than 2 children pay a wage penalty. For Whites, all married mothers pay a wage penalty, as do all never-married mothers and divorced mothers with 1 or 2 children.

Findings suggest that patterns of racial differentiation affect women's family experiences and labor market outcomes. Further, it might be that there is a floor to the motherhood wage penalty. It might be that wages among some racial groups are so low, they cannot drop any further. Future research is suggested to consider why some mothers do not pay a motherhood wage penalty.


KEY WORDS: Mothers; Wage Effects; Racial Differences.

Henthorn, C. L. (2000). The emblematic kitchen: Labor-saving technology as national propaganda, the United States, 1939-1959. Knowledge and Society, 12, 153-187.


Chronicles how household technology became a fresh battlefield for social dominance between communism & "commercialized" democracy. This is demonstrated in the analysis of the promotion of new labor-saving devices & technologies in the US home as a means for great social change & housewife liberation from the drudgery of domestic chores. Mass media advertising images of the time portray the middle-class housewife as an emblem of glamour and leisure, attesting to the superiority of US technology & a revolutionized & liberated domesticity. Images also functioned, by extension, as propaganda to demonstrate the country's superior military strength. Beneath this utopian picture, however, a sexual division of progress is evident that relegated women to the domestic sphere while perpetrating myths about how happy and lucky they were to be the recipients of such advanced technology (created by men). Traditional gender roles were reinforced, and women's participation in spheres other than the domestic severely curtailed, following a period during the war when they had dared to work outside the home.
KEY WORDS: Women's Roles; Post World War II Period; United States of America; Cold War; Technological Innovations; Housework; Sexual Division of Labor; Mass Media Images; Propaganda; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; International Conflict; Technological Progress; Social Reproduction; Sex Roles; Household Work.

Heymann, S. J., & Earle, A. (2001). The impact of parental working conditions on school-age children: The case of evening work. Community, Work & Family, 4(3), 305-325.


Among non-standard shifts in weekly work schedules, the evening shift is one of the most common. Low-income parents are more likely to be required to work non-standard schedules. Little work has been done to examine the effect of parental evening work on school-age children. Data collected in the US in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) was used to examine effects of parental evening work on the home environment for 1,133 school children, aged 5-10 years. The Home Observation Measurement of the Environment (HOME) score used has been shown to predict children's school, developmental & health outcomes. Even only one parent working in the evening had a significantly negative effect on the home environment for families living in poverty and those not living in poverty. The effect size, an 11% decrease in HOME scores when mothers worked evenings & an 8% decrease in HOME scores when fathers worked evenings, was of the same order of magnitude as living in poverty. The increase in US and other countries functioning as a 24-hour economy, and created the demand for evening work. Without changes in public or industrial policies, parents have no choice but to work evenings, whether quality substitute care is available for their children or not, and whether they believe that the benefits of evening work outweigh the costs. Policies that provide parents with a way to see their children after school are important for all families, and are especially important for working parents and children living in poverty. Parents living in poverty often have the least choice about working conditions & the least resources available for finding quality substitute care for their children in the evenings.
KEY WORDS: Working Hours; Family-Work Relationship; Parents; Children; Home Environment; Child Development; United States of America; Household Work.

Himsel, A. J., & Goldberg, W. A. (2003). Social comparisons and satisfaction with the division of housework: Implications for men's and women's role strain. Journal of Family Issues, 24(7), 843-866.


Contemporary parents lack clear guidelines for the fair & equitable allocation of family work. According to social comparison theory, under conditions of uncertainty, individuals often compare themselves to others to gain a sense of what is "normal." The authors applied social comparison theory to the examination of satisfaction with the division of housework & the experience of role strain. Results of covariance structure analysis indicated that women reported higher levels of satisfaction when they did less housework than their female friends & greater satisfaction & less role strain when their husbands did more than other male comparison referents. In contrast, men were more satisfied when their wives did more housework than their own mothers did. Satisfaction mediated the link between social comparisons & role strain. Interviews with 25 fathers revealed that some men invoke an image of the "generalized other" to make their own contributions to housework seem more noteworthy.
KEY WORDS: Housework; Sexual Division of Labor; Wives; Husbands; Role Conflict; Social Comparison; Dual Career Family; California; Household Work.

Hondagneu-Sotelo, P. (2000). The international division of caring and cleaning work: Transnational connections or apartheid exclusions? New York: Routledge.


Argues that women from developing countries who work as nannies or housekeepers in the US, and who leave their children, have reshaped the global economy. An international division of labor that fulfills reproductive labor in the US while neglecting it in the immigrants' countries of origin and disenfranchises the mostly Caribbean & Latina immigrants by race, class, gender, and citizenship. Data from historical sources, research on Latina domestic workers in Los Angeles, a survey questionnaire completed by 153 Latina immigrant domestic workers, & in-depth interviews with 23 domestic workers, 37 employers, 3 attorneys specializing in issues related to domestic work, and 5 individuals that owned or worked in domestic employment agencies. The emotional costs of transnational motherhood are explored and is contrasted with patterns of contract labor that were common in the Western US in earlier historical periods. Demographic, cultural, and political implications are discussed.
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