9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN13 Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Family and Support Networks II Building II, Auditório B1.04

Development and dynamics of the gender relationship in Europe

Today we are witnessing on several fronts (paid work, housework and care) a transformation of identity and a consequent rethinking of the relationship between the sexes.
At a general level, structural elements emerge - which relate to gender, class, economic systems and national welfare - as inevitable and crucial points of reference in shaping the course of the individual´s life and family choices. These, however, although influential, are not exclusive and do not completely explain the phenomena under consideration.
On the other hand individual characteristics, choices and orientations appear fundamental in understanding how under the same contextual conditions the social players put in practice different strategies or prefer different courses of action. Individual choices, however, cannot be over-emphasised.
Only if we manage to go beyond a mechanistic vision of influence between the two elements (structure and agency) which never relate to one another, is it possible to understand the importance of the "actors" who through their self-consciousness, intentionality and emotionality which characterises them, their ability to identify their own ultimate concerns, to dedicate themselves to these and to try to achieve them within the social order, bring out aspects which are not attributable to the social imprinting upon each one of them (Archer).
If one assumes the morphogenetic approach it is possible to observe how what generates and regenerates a family cannot be reduced neither to the pressure exerted by the social structures nor to the internal logic of individuals, but to a relationship, or rather to a reciprocal action of structure and agency which through freedom of action allows the modification of the initial structure through an act of mediation able to give rise a new family structure in the course of time. In this perspective, using comparative European data (Eurostat, OECD, ESS; Eurisko), we´ll focus on the convergence or divergence between European regions, in the area of paid work, housework and care, looking in particular at the difference between women and men.