Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Social Change; Work; Leisure; Housework; Sexual Division of Labor; Time Utilization; Australia; Household Work.

Bittman, M., & Goodin, R. E. (2000). An equivalence scale for time. Social Indicators Research, 52(3), 291-311.


This article reports on analyses of time-use surveys involving 99,137 respondents from 28 surveys in 13 Western countries. Specifically, it proposes an "equivalence scale for time" where information about total working time in both paid and unpaid labor can be derived from information about paid working time and household structure. Different scales are offered for men and women, and an adjustment according to year is also provided.
KEY WORDS: Family Structure; Working Hours; Income; Labor; Housework; Scales; Household Work.

Bjonberg, U. (2004). Making agreements and managing conflicts: Swedish dual-earner couples in theory and practice. Current Sociology, 52(1), 33-52.


Equality means that individuals have a balance between the articulation of their individual selves & their norms & moral concerns about mutuality. Strategies for balancing mutuality & autonomy in relationships are vital to the process of accomplishing equality. Negotiation styles and conflict management are involved in this process. The author discusses how styles of conflict management maintain inequality or promote gender equality. Drawing on a qualitative study of twenty-two couples in Sweden. Both men and women were interviewed separately to talk about how they share household labour, dispose of and allocate material resources, and relate to youngsters.
KEY WORDS: Dual Career Family; Housework; Sexual Division of Labor; Parent-Child Relations; Sexual Inequality; Conflict Resolution; Marital Relations; Family Power; Sweden; Household Work.

Blane, D., Berney, L., & Montgomery, S. M. (2001). Domestic labour, paid employment and women's health: Analysis of life course data. Social Science and Medicine, 52(6), 959-965.


This paper reports examines the relationship between the amount of domestic labor performed by a woman during her lifetime and a variety of self-reported and objective measures of her health in early old age. Findings are based on female members (n=155) of a data set which contained considerable life course information, including full household, residential, and occupational histories. Domestic labor, on its own, proved a weak predictor of health. However, the relationship strengthened when domestic labor was combined with the hazards of the formal paid employment that the woman had performed. This finding suggests that it is the combination of domestic labor in addition to paid employment that influences women's health. This finding is supported by its agreement with other studies that reached the same conclusion through an analysis of data with markedly different characteristics.
KEY WORDS: Housework; Health; Working Women; Employment; Women's Health Care; Elderly; United Kingdom; Household Work.

Borrell, C., Muntaner, C., Benach, J., & Artazcoz, L. (2004). Social class and self-reported health status among men and women: What Is the role of work organisation, household material standards and household labour? Social Science & Medicine, 58(10), 1869-1887.


The objectives of this study are to analyse the association between self-reported health status & social class & to examine the role of work organisation, material standards & household labour as potential mediating factors in explaining this association. Using the Barcelona Health Interview Survey, a cross-sectional survey of 10,000 residents of the city's non-institutionalised population in 2000. This was a stratified sample, strata being the 10 districts of the city. The present study was conducted on the working population, aged 16-64 years (2345 men & 1874 women). Social class position was measured with Erik Olin Wright's indicators according to ownership & control over productive assets. Work organisation & household material standards were associated with poor health status with the exception of number of hours worked per week. Work organisation variables were the main explanatory variables of social class inequalities in health, although material standards also contributed. Among women, only unskilled workers had poorer health status than the referent category of manager & skilled supervisors (aOR: 3.25; 95%CI: 1.37-7.74). Indicators of work organisation & household material standards reached statistical significance, excepting the number of hours worked weekly. Among women, compared with men, the number of hours weekly of household labour was associated with poor health status (aOR: 1.02; 95% CI: 1.01-1.03). Showing a different pattern from men in the full model, household material deprivation & hours of household labour weekly were associated with poor health status among women. Results suggest that among men, part of the association between social class positions and poor health can be accounted for psychosocial, physical working conditions & job insecurity. Among women, the association between the worker (non-owner, non-managerial, & un-credentiated) class positions and health is substantially explained by working conditions, material well being at home and amount of household labour.
KEY WORDS: Health; Social Class; Social Inequality; Work Environment; Sex Differences; Work Organization; Housework; Barcelona and Spain; Household Work.

Bryant, K. W., Kang, H., Zick, C., & Chan, A. (2004). Measuring housework in time use surveys. Review of Economics of the Household, 2(1), 23-47.


Historically, national surveys have taken a variety of approaches when gathering housework information. The goal of the paper is to discuss how to gather valid and reliable data on housework in a cost effective manner. The article discusses types of surveys such as interview, telephone and paper survey methods; types of questions concerning what is defined as housework and what is not; and definitions of time in survey use. Housework time-use questions should be as explicit as possible in describing the tasks to be included in the definition of housework and must give careful attention to whether or not there is room for different interpretations of the question by gender.

A methodology is devised to discuss the error in measurement of housework time in surveys. More attention should be given as to what types of time should be included in the survey. Sometimes housework time is ascertained via a single survey question that relies on the respondent's recollection of his/her typical or usual time spent in one or more household activities

The authors estimate that a telephone (mail) survey rather than an interview survey leads to a mean underestimation of 60 (30) min/week for women and 18 (13) min for men. Figures in brackets indicate married women and men. They point out that the relatively greater underestimation of married men's housework time in the PSID may have consequences for the conclusions drawn in past studies.
KEY WORDS: Housework; Survey Error; Diary Surveys.

Burns, D. (2000). Practices of citizenship: Inter-linking community, work and family in a national single parent organisation. Community, Work & Family, 3(3), 261-277.


Currently, notions of community, work, and family are enmeshing with concepts of citizenship to reconstruct contexts and foundations for welfare reform in the UK. Within debates about welfare reform, paid work has become central to notions of "good" citizenship, "good" parenting, and "strong" communities. Evolving notions are redefining parenting as a nonworking activity. Single mothers claiming welfare benefits are in danger of being positioned as "partial" citizens. Daily practices of citizenship by single mothers lie outside of those recognized by the state, could be rendered invisible. The author exemplifies ways in which the members of a national single parent organization are constructing their own relationships between community, work, and family, and through this process are engaging in building citizenship practices.
KEY WORDS: Citizenship; Welfare Reform; Single Mothers; Organizations (Social); Communities; Family; Work; Welfare Recipients; Family-Work Relationship; United Kingdom; Wages; Household Work.

Cameron, J., & Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2003). Feminising the economy: Metaphors, strategies, politics. Gender, Place and Culture, 10(2), 145-157.


Within contemporary feminism, common approaches to feminizing the economy involve adding a sphere or sector or attributing a monetary value to women's unpaid labor. Each of these approaches is interested in creating an accurate representation of the real or 'whole' economy. But these representations are in the same lineage as mainstream economic conceptions; the economy remains a bounded entity that can be known by enumerating its parts. The 'adding on' and 'counting in' strategies employed by feminists complete the picture of what is needed to produce social well-being but do not necessarily help us think differently about how goods and services are or might be produced. In this article, the authors ask how feminist economic theory might contribute to envisioning or enacting alternative economies. They find answers to this question through reading feminist interventions for glimmers of a deconstructive project that opens 'the economy' to difference. Pursuing these glimmers, they attempt to insert the possibility of non-capitalist forms of economy, including economies of generosity, nonprofit businesses, worker collectives, and alternative capitalist enterprises impelled by a social or environmental ethic. In place of the view of the economy as a whole comprised of a pre-established number of parts or sectors, it can begin to be seen as a discursive construct that can be reconstructed to contribute to social transformation.
KEY WORDS: Feminism; Economics; Economic Theories; Theoretical Problems; Household Work.

Caplan, L. J., & Schooler, C. (2006). Household work complexity, intellectual functioning, and self-esteem in men and women. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(4), 883-900.


In this article the authors focus on the psychological effects of household work and specifically on the intellectual functioning and self-esteem in men and women. Self-esteem is defined as self-confidence and self-deprecation. Complexity is considered to be the degree to which an environment's demands are intellectually challenging. Schooler (1990) states, "The more diverse the stimuli, the greater the number of decisions required, the greater the number of considerations to be taken into account in making these decisions, and the more ill defined and apparently contradictory the contingencies, the more complex the environment" (p. 348). Analyses revealed that for men (n = 351) and women (n = 355), more complex household work was associated with increased intellectual flexibility. For women, complex household work was also associated with increased self-confidence and decreased self-deprecation. For men, complex household work was associated with decreased self-confidence. The results indicated that the effects of complex household work on self-esteem depended on the psychological meaning and centrality of such work for men and women: Doing substantively complex household work generally had positive effects on self-esteem for women and negative effects for men.
KEY WORDS: Family Roles; Housework; Division of Labour; Personality; Self-esteem.

Chronholm, A. (2002). Which fathers use their rights? Swedish fathers who take parental leave. Community, Work & Family, 5(3), 365-370.


This research project focuses on fathers who have taken a relatively large share of the total parental leave period available to families in Sweden. Based on a questionnaire to fathers who took at least 120 days of leave in Gothenburg between 1992 & 1999, the study revealed that most of these fathers were the main caregivers of their children during their leave period. Some fathers, though, reported that they had not been the primary caregivers during the leave period. Immigrant fathers were well represented in the sample. Comparison with Swedish-born fathers revealed high levels of unemployment among the partners of the immigrant fathers: most partners of Swedish-born fathers were earning in 1999. Swedish-born fathers were also more likely to report doing more domestic work, in addition to child care, while on leave. This may have occurred because more mothers with Swedish-born partners were working during the time that fathers were taking leave. Majority of fathers in both groups reported the relationship with their child as the primary reason for taking leave.
KEY WORDS: Fathers; Family-Work Relationship; Family Roles; Sweden; Personnel Policy; Public Policy; Immigrants; Household Work.
Ciabattari, T. (2004). Cohabitation and housework: The effects of marital intentions. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(1), 118-125.
This study asks how cohabiters' housework patterns vary by their marital intentions. I draw on interactionist theories that view housework as an activity that produces gender & family to hypothesize that cohabiters who are more invested in their relationships will spend more time on housework. Analyzing the 1987-1988 National Survey of Families & Households (N = 348), I find that, controlling for sociodemographic & household differences, men who are least committed to their relationships spend the least time on housework, whereas women's housework time is not affected by marital intentions.
KEY WORDS: Housework; Cohabitation; Sexual Division of Labor; Sexual Inequality; Household Work.

Clark, S. C. (2002). Communicating across the work/home border. Community, Work & Family, 5(1), 23-48.


This article considers how individuals enact their work and home environments to create balance, by communicating with family about work and with work associates about family. Using a focus group and questionnaire data from a sample of 179 individuals who work and have family responsibilities, factors that influence the amount of communication and the effect of communication on work/family balance were examined. Results indicate that communication with family about work and communication at work about family varies depending on the permeability of the work and home borders. Individuals who engage in these types of communication demonstrate greater work satisfaction, higher work functioning, higher satisfaction with home & family activities.
KEY WORDS: Family-Work Relationship; Home Environment; Work Environment; Interpersonal Communication; Job Satisfaction; Family Life; Family Stability; Household Work.

Cohen, P. N. (2004). The gender division of labor "keeping house" and occupational segregation in the United States. Gender & Society, 18(2), 239-252.


This article explores the effect of the transition of women into the labour market and its impact on the gender segregation of work. Using the Current Population Survey from 1972 to 1993, the author includes as "working" those respondents who were "keeping house" and codes keeping house as an occupation. The results show higher estimates of gender segregation, and slightly steeper declines over time, than were seen in previous studies. Analysis of one-year longitudinal changes reveals less movement out of female-dominated occupations when keeping house is included as an occupation. Finally, a decomposition of the segregation trend shows that the movement of women away from keeping house contributed as much to the overall decline in gender segregation as did the desegregation of paid occupations. The author concludes that the movement of women's work from the household to the labour market has been a driving force in the changing nature of gender inequality.
KEY WORDS: Occupational Segregation; Housework; Gender Inequality.

Cunningham, M. (2007). Influences of women's employment on the gendered division of household labor over the life course. Journal of Family Issues, 28(3), 422-444.


This study showed that husbands of women who accumulate more employment experience over the course of marriage perform a relatively larger amount of routine housework than the husbands of women with shorter employment histories.

Cunningham draws on data from a panel study of White women spanning 31 years to examine the influence of women's employment on the gendered division of household labour. Numerous aspects of women's employment are investigated, including accumulated employment histories, current employment status, current employment hours, and relative income. The influence of women's employment status operates in part by increasing women's support for egalitarian roles between spouses. Women's hours of employment and relative income are stronger predictors of housework allocation than is their current employment status.


KEY WORDS: Gender; Housework; Life Course; Women's Employment.

Daly, K. J. (2002). Time, gender, and the negotiation of family schedules. Symbolic Interaction, 25(3), 323-342.


This paper examines the interactive processes by which women and men negotiate family time schedules. Based on 50 interviews with 17 dual-earner couples, it focuses on the ways men and women define time in gendered ways, exert different controls over the way time is used, and align their time strategies in the course of managing everyday family life. The results indicate that there are both continuities and discontinuities with the past: women continue to exert more control over the organization of time in families, but time negotiation itself has become a more complex and demanding activity. The way that couples carry out these negotiations reflects a variety of adaptive strategies, with some couples being very reactive in contending with present demands and others being highly structured and seeking to anticipate and control the future. Although some couples worked to negotiate balance in their time responsibilities, it was wives who maintained control over time and, ultimately, the orchestration of family activity.
KEY WORDS: Family Life; Time; Time Utilization; Sex Differences; Dual Career Family; Working Men; Working Women; Family-Work Relationship; Working Mothers; Household Work.

Davies, L., & Carrier, P. J. (1999). The importance of power relations for the division of household labour. Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie, 24(1), 35-51.


Survey data from 2,577 adults representative of the Canadian labor force in 1982 are drawn on to examine the division of housework in dual-earner households. The hypothesis is that power relations affect household work performed by both women and men. Analysis suggest that paid work hours, sex composition of one's occupation, and decision-making power predict one's contribution to housework. Findings differ depending on whether wives or husbands, and male or female tasks are examined. Findings are interpreted in a framework that recognizes that power relations are implicated in the gendered nature of social life at both the structural and individual levels.
KEY WORDS: Housework; Family Power; Sexual Division of Labor; Dual Career Family; Canada; Working Women; Working Men; Household Work.

Davis, S. N., Greenstein, T. N., & Gerteisen Marks, J. P. (2007). Effects of union type on division of household labour: Do cohabiting men really perform more housework? Journal of Family Issues, 28(9), 1246-1272.

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This study uses data from 17,636 respondents in 28 nations (Canada is not included) to compare the reported division of household labour and factors affecting it for married and cohabiting couples. Cohabiting men report performing more household labour than do married men while cohabiting women report performing less household labour than do married women. The effects of time availability and relative resources are the same for both union types, but gender ideology is more influential on the division of labour reported by cohabiting than by married respondents. Findings are consistent with the research suggesting that cohabitors have more egalitarian expectations based on the influence of gender ideology. The article makes suggestions for future research including qualitative research.


KEY WORDS: Division of Labour; Cohabitation; Gender Ideology.

Dempsey, K. C. (2000). Men and women's power relationships and the persisting inequitable division of housework. Journal of Family Studies, 6(1), 7-24.


Wives attempting to exercise power by getting their husbands to do more housework & the degree of success they experience is examined. The authors draw on 1998 scale data from 66 women residing in Victoria, Australia. Although all the wives were engaged in paid work, they were contributing 66+% of the total time to housework. It was predicted that women would be reluctant to ask their husbands to increase their participation in housework either for fear of jeopardizing their access to valued resources the husbands provided or because they believed in the legitimacy of the existing division of tasks. Also predicted was men using their superior resource and definitional power to resist any overtures their wives made. Predictions were only partially confirmed. Women were more willing to ask their husbands to increase their participation in housework and, although men were often resistant, 40+% of women experienced some success. They were more likely to gain help with tasks rather than for husbands to agree to accept responsibility for some of the inside tasks. Results only partially corroborate the claims of those feminists who say men use their superior power to resist as much change as possible to a traditional division of labor. Also suggested is that women's ambivalence about handing over tasks can result in an impediment to change.
KEY WORDS: Family Power; Sexual Division of Labor; Housework; Sexual Inequality; Australia; Household Work.

Denuwelaere, M. (2003). Gender inequity in the division of labor: From parents to children. Mens en Maatschappij, 78(4), 355-378.


One obvious gap in the literature of domestic labor concerns the participation of children in family chores. While children do have a significant contribution in family chores, surprisingly little research focuses on the role of gender on division of labor. This study examines if there is similarity between the gender equity in the housework allocation of parents and that of their children. The findings indicate that the role-behavior of parents concerning the division of labor influences the way their children divide chores along gender lines. The article concludes that there is an intergenerational transfer of gender inequity in the division of labor.
KEY WORDS: Sexual Division of Labor; Family Roles; Opposite Sex Relations; Parent-Child Relations; Housework; Sexual Inequality; Children; Household Work.

DeVault, M. L. (1999). Comfort and struggle: Emotion work in family life Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 561, 52-63.


DeVault advocates for an improved foundation for social and public policy and promotes developing more accurate accounts of family emotion work in order to support the policy foundation.

The unpaid emotion work of family life is typically focused on caregiving and emotional support in the "Standard North American Family" (SNAF), a phrase accredited to Dorothy Smith (1993). DeVault considers other formations of emotion work occurring when families are located outside of the privileged white middle class. She examines the emotion work involved in advocacy, planning and responding to institutions that families encounter when they have children with special needs or disabilities. She explores the emotion work involved in surviving racial or socio-economic oppression and working class identity. She discusses "passing" and resistance as strategies to appear as SNAF as possible, and how children are recruited to collude on the terrain. She points out that some family groups must do more or different emotion work that produces forms of social inequality, depending on their location. Her examples also serve as important examples of informal learning that families undertake to counter oppression. An important aspect of this article is making visible the activity of children in family emotion work.



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