Inequalities at work, between and within households

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  • Created by: Rachel
  • Created on: 13-01-13 21:06

Families and Households

  • A family is a group of two or more people who are related by birth, marriage, cohabitation or adoption
  • The overlap between ‘family’ and ‘household’ and ‘home’ is being eroded by the new diversity of families
  • Nuclear family norm (married couple and co-resident children) is declining due to increased numbers of households with lone parents or cohabitants.
  • Significant rise in lone parenting (UK has highest rate in Europe) ¼ of children live with a single parent
  • ‘blended’ families, ‘fictive’ kin (unrelated others to be part of their network), dual location household (shares income pooling and decision making but lives in two different destinations e.g. dual career couples.)  LAT (living apart together (two people who are in a relationship but live in two different places)
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Headline Demographic trends

  • Population growth made up of births, deaths and migration: migration households can be bigger with extended family living there.
  • Increased divorce rate
  • Increased life expectancy, lower birth rates, picture complicated by greater variation in household size, composition and structure
  • Ageing population (bulging pyramid)

Connection: Demographic nad settlemetn trends

  • Baby boom in 1940s/50s coincided with growing suburbanisation. As this generation ages, expansion of retirement (e.g coastal) property/destination. Shift of population from cities to suburbs due to shift of transport routes into suburbs.
  • DINKY and Yuppie boom of 1980s coincided with urban renaissance (gentrification of inner city areas)
  • Increased demand for housing from one person household (family breakdown and ageing population)
  • Built environment never totally fits the needs, built environment is legacy of past epochs
  • Current housing crisis associated with delayed household information (e.g boomerang kids, hidden homeless, sofa surfers)
  • Can never look at social domains isolation
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Changes in household employment structure

  • 1950s more than 70% of family households were ‘traditional’ with ‘male breadwinner’ and economically inactive’ female home-maker (unpaid work and childcare) Cultural ‘norm’ was sense of proper thing to do and cultural aspiration
  • Since 1990s dual earner norm: 65% of women in couple with children in the UK in dual earner HH. 
  • implications for decision-making power relations?
    -Role strain – double day/dual burden
    -persistent inequalities in HH gender divisions of labour despite both members working
    -role reversal is rare
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What is gender? How it shapes division of labour

  • Sex: biological differences, male and female
  • Gender: what it means to be a man or a woman (culturally constructed stereotypes) culturally raised social behavioural norms ‘pinkness and blueness’. Reproducing the idea of what it is to be a boy and girl child.
  • Gender role: a set of social and behavioural norms considered appropriate for either a man or a woman in a particular context (at home/family and in public) Gender roles vary widely between cultures and they change over time
  • Household gender divisions of labour: who does what, when and where and how this is valued by society
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Expanding out understanding of 'work'

  • Paid work and employment
  • If work is activities of effort that contribute to society then there are many e.g household work, care-work, voluntary work, emotional labour that are undervalued but are crucial to society
  • Unemployment (differentiate between people looking for work, long term limited illness or disabled, economically inactive, retired)
  • NEET: not in education, employment or training (young school leavers)
  • Indentured labour (Dorling): live in ‘servant’ labour, often compelled to work for very low wages out of fear of debt (modern day slavery?) debt being paid of in exploitative terms. Also includes shameful practices i.e. sex.
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Inequality within and between households

  •  Intra-HH (within) – persistent gender inequalities: women doing the double work.
  • Inter-HH (between) – growing polarization between ‘work rich’ dual earning HH and those HH without income from any form of employment
  • ‘work rich’ associated with ‘time poor’: long working house, lengthy commuting, complex coordination of unpaid housework, child care, chaperoning
  • ‘asset poor; associated with reduced mobility and ’revolving door;’ of short term low wage jobs.
  • Inequality happens within households too and between households. 
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Social ties and community & Summary

  • A ‘sense of community’ defined as ‘a feeling of solidarity between people who occupy the same territory’ (Willmot and Young 1957)
  • Are we loosing site of close knit communities as lives are being stretched out with commuting etc.
  • Contemporary debate concerning ‘erosion’ or loss of ‘close-knit’ community – linked to changes in HH employment structure. 
  • -nostalgia for the good life?


  • Making connections between home, work and family life – persistent inequalities within and between households
  • Implications of inequality include concern for well-being and quality if lie, loss of self-worth
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Geographies of family formations Duncan and Smith

(2002) Spatial differences in variations in family formations in Britain are measured using 4 indices:

Motherhood Employment Effect (MEE) = geographical adherene to ad deviation from 'traditional' male breadwinner/female homemaker partnering practices. 

Family Conventionality (FC) = patial difference in the social evaluation of the importance of marriage for parenting. 

(These two are combined to provide an overall measure of adherence to and departure from the 'traditional' family.)

Traditional Household (TC) = pattern of adherence or departure from the 'tradtional' heterosexual couple household model for non parents as well as parents.

Family Restructuring (FR) = spatial patterns in departure from marriage as a partnering and parenting form.

Information is given to District Councils (DCs) to discover regional groupings and travel to work areas (TTWAs) that spatially link commuting to job opportunities. 

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