9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN13 Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Work and Families II Building II, Auditório B1.03

Successfully reconciling work and family: Recipes from Portuguese dual-earners

As families increasingly need two salaries to be economically viable and as men´s and women´s roles in both the workplace and at home have changed, questions have been raised regarding how best individuals and couples can balance family and work. Traditionally, research has been focused in the conflict and strain dual-earner couples experience. More recently the interest has shifted to the analysis of the adaptive strategies they use. Following this trend, this study aims to analyse strategies used by Portuguese couples in the balance of work and family roles. Since work and family are highly gendered domains, the study also takes into account gender differences.
Women and men responses (n=217) to an open-ended question about personal recipes to balance work and family responsibilities were qualitatively analysed. Results showed 8 main reconciliation categories comprising 20 different types of strategies: individual; couple; familial; family-work articulation; professional; resources and support; daily life planning; and geographic. Globally, both men and women tend to rely on familial strategies and on resources and support to deal with multiple responsibilities, nevertheless women tend to refer more reconciliation strategies than men. Regarding gender differences, men emphasize more individual characteristics than women do, and women emphasize more daily planning than men do. Within each main category some gender differences were also observed: i) in the family domain, women tend to use more strategies related with household tasks management; ii) in the individual domain, women are the only to refer the need to maintain free time for themselves; iii) in the professional domain, men endorse more strategies related with workplace flexibility and women compromise more their professional goals. Another important result is that emotional factors are perceived as crucial for balancing work and family roles. Such is evident in the importance given by both genders to the promotion of family well-being.