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Agency and Capabilities to Achieve a Work–Life Balance: A Comparison of Sweden and Hungary
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
The Institute of Sociology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
2011 (English)In: Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society, ISSN 1072-4745, E-ISSN 1468-2893, Vol. 18, no 2, 168-198 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study develops a conceptual framework with a capabilities and agency approach for analyzing work–life balance (WLB) applied in two societies (Hungary and Sweden), which have different working time regimes, levels of precarious employment, and gender equality discourses and norms. Inspired by Amartya Sen, we present a model illustrating how agency freedom for WLB depends on multiple resources at the individual, work organizational, institutional, and normative/societal levels. Using a unique qualitative survey conducted in two cities, Budapest and Stockholm, we analyze how mothers and fathers subjectively experience the tensions between family and work demands, and their possibilities for alternative choices (agency freedom). We find similarities in these tensions involving time pressure and time poverty, cutting across gender and education. Our Hungarian parents, nevertheless, experience greater agency inequalities for WLB, which reflect weaker institutional resources (conversion factors) as well as cultural/societal norms that act as constraints for WLB claims in the workplace and household. Our study reveals that Swedish parents, both men and women, express a strong sense of entitlement to exercise rights to care.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 18, no 2, 168-198 p.
Keyword [en]
Capability approach, work-life balance
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-66009DOI: 10.1093/sp/jxr007ISI: 000291664300002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-66009DiVA: diva2:466725
Available from: 2011-12-16 Created: 2011-12-16 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Facets of Work–Life Balance across Europe: How the interplay of institutional contexts, work arrangements and individual resources affect capabilities for having a family, and for being involved in family life
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Facets of Work–Life Balance across Europe: How the interplay of institutional contexts, work arrangements and individual resources affect capabilities for having a family, and for being involved in family life
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this dissertation is to explore various dimensions of work–life balance in Europe. I examine the extent to which institutional factors, working conditions and individual resources influence individuals’ capabilities to have a family and engage in family life. The theoretical framework is inspired by Amartya Sen’s capability framework, a multi-dimensional approach that provides a deeper understanding of the relationship between institutional contexts and individual capabilities. Four studies have been conducted. The first study focuses on women’s short-term childbearing intentions in ten European countries and finds that the association between such intentions and economic uncertainties varies by the policy support for work-family reconciliation in the country as well as individual factors, such as her educational level, and her number of children. The second study addresses the impact of family-friendly working conditions on young adult women’s childbearing behaviour in Sweden, showing the importance of family-friendly working condition for the transition to motherhood of less educated childless women with low income, and for second births of low educated mothers. The third study analyses gender differences in perceived work–home conflict in ten European countries, and the importance of work-family policies and gender norms. I find that gender differences are more pronounced in countries with weaker support for work-family reconciliation and more traditional gender norms. The fourth study focuses on tensions between work and family demands that parents in Hungary and Sweden experience, and on their capabilities to make claims for work–life balance. We find greater agency inequalities for Hungarian parents for claims making for and achievement of work-life balance, in contrast to a strong sense of entitlement to exercise rights to care among Swedish parents, which reflect country variations in policy supports for work−life balance, working time regimes and social norms regarding work and care.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2012. 177 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 53
Keyword
capability approach, childbearing, family-friendly work, family policies, work–life balance
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79498 (URN)978-91-87235-01-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-11-26, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted.

Available from: 2012-11-02 Created: 2012-09-04 Last updated: 2015-06-16Bibliographically approved

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