Magazine articles, talk shows, and commercials advise us that our happiness and well-being rest on striking a balance between work and family. It goes unsaid, however, that the advice is based on an outmoded and unrealistic ideal.
A Life in Balance? shows that in order to truly resolve work-family issues, we must consider work and family life as overlapping aspects of a single existence, rather than as separate and competing spheres. In this volume, experts and activists from law, sociology, women’s studies, labour studies, and social work transcend prevailing myths by exploring how paid work (employment) and unpaid work (caregiving and housework) continue to be set against each other, particularly in support of neo-liberal agendas. They examine alternative approaches to integrating family and paid work – stay-at-home fathers, family policy in Quebec, and work and care in Aboriginal communities – which must be considered if we are to build a truly equitable national childcare policy.
This book will be of interest to scholars from a wide range of social science disciplines, as well as to policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and parents trying to “balance” work and family responsibilities.
Despite a large body of scholarship on work-family relationships, none accomplishes what this volume does. It disrupts the work-family binary, demonstrating how this divide contributes to neo-liberal agendas. The chapters consist of fine-grained and nuanced empirical studies as well as broader think pieces that offer alternative conceptions for scholarship and for policy.
This book is directed to anyone interested in policies that affect women – policy analysts working for government, those connected to research institutes, sociologists interested in the development of theory in this area, and advanced undergraduate students in sociology of the family.
Catherine Krull is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and the Cultural Studies Program at Queen’s University, cross-appointed to Women’s Studies, and is an associate dean in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Justyna Sempruch is a researcher at the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Basel, Switzerland.
Contributors: Patrizia Albanese, Donna Baines, Maureen Baker, Andrea Doucet, Ann Duffy, Margrit Eichler, Bonnie Freeman, Judy Fudge, Margaret Hillyard Little, Nancy Mandell, Susan A. McDaniel, Norene Pupo, Sue Wilson
Introduction: Diversifying the Model, Demystifying the Approach: The Work-Family Debate Reopened / Catherine Krull and Justyna Sempruch
Part 1: Transcending the Prevailing Myths
1 Destabilizing the Nuclear Family Ideal: Thinking Beyond Essentialisms, Universalism, and Binaries / Catherine Krull
2 Intergenerational Care Work: Mothering, Grandmothering, and Eldercare / Nancy Mandell and Sue Wilson
3 Maternal Employment, Childcare, and Public Policy / Maureen Baker
Part 2: Integrating Family and Work
4 Work, Care, Resistance, and Mothering: An Indigenous Perspective / Donna Baines and Bonnie Freeman
5 “I Am the Patient and Compassionate Cashier”: Learning through Unpaid Household Work for Paid Work / Margrit Eichler
6 Employment in the New Economy and the Impact on Canadian Families / Ann Duffy and Norene Pupo
7 What Impedes Fathers’ Participation in Care Work? Theorizing the Community as an Institutional Arena / Andrea Doucet
8 Addressing the Interlocking Complexity of Paid Work and Care: Lessons from Changing Family Policy in Quebec / Patrizia Albanese
Part 3: Feminist-Informed Family Initiatives and Family Visions
9 Beyond the “Cultural” Landscape of Care: Queering Childcare, Caregiver, and Work / Justyna Sempruch
10 Working-Time Regimes, Flexibility, and Work-Life Balance: Gender Equality and Families / Judy Fudge
11 The Increasing Invisibility of Mothering / Margaret Hillyard Little
Epilogue: A Feminist Vision for Caring-Employment Integration in Canada / Susan A. McDaniel
References; List of Contributors; Index
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