Sliding into a Gendered Division of Labour

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Lunds universitet/Sociologi; Lunds universitet/Socialhögskolan; Lunds universitet/Sociologiska institutionen

Sammanfattning: In Switzerland the one-and-a-half-earner model where the father is the primary wage-earner working full-time and the woman is the secondary wage-earner working part-time while taking over the majority of care and housework responsibilities is predominant. This is discussed criti-cally as the normative and institutional context incentivises parents to adopt a division of labour that disadvantages women in terms of economic vulnerability and social recognition. The aim of this study is to examine the decision-making process of highly educated Swiss couples that has led them to adopt a gendered division of labour. Joint in-depth interviews were conducted and analysed inductively. It is shown that the interviewed couples take many decisions implicitly and focus on short-term and incremental decision-making. This enables them to handle the great num-ber of decisions at hand and allows them to avoid conflict and uncertain outcomes. However, by agreeing on things implicitly, much room for the influence of prevalent gendered norms and institutions on the division of paid and unpaid work is left. By using the concept of the gendered master status (Krüger and Levy 2000, 2001), it is demonstrated how gendered differences in women’s and men’s life paths are reinforced in the transition to parenthood. The limited aware-ness of the influence of the underlying gender structures on their division of work can partly explain why the couples do not feel very constrained in their choice of a family and work model. Additionally, the costs of countering norms and institutions in order to live in a more gender equal model are sometimes rated as excessive. This leads couples to accept the fact that the goals of being a good parent and a good employee are not compatible. It is discussed how such constraints can be reduced. Finally, the problem is addressed that by focusing on short-term and objective decisions, couples tend to only marginally include more abstract long-term consequences of the one-and-a-half-earner model.

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