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Caring time, working time and time for oneself: How men and women working atypical hours and caring for elderly relatives negotiate their time and commitments.

Conference contribution
Authors Sofia Engström
Hans Ekbrand
Published in Nya perspektiv på Kön och arbete, Stockholm 20 mars 2009
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Sociology
Language en
Keywords Work life balance, Gender, Informal elderly care, Negotiation
Subject categories Sociology


This paper examines how men and women, working atypical hours and caring for elderly relatives, negotiate responsibilities and commitments for their elderly relatives, in relation to family members. Negotiations are here understood as how people, through explicit decision making and though practises, shape the cognition of commitments and responsibilities. The analysis is based on semi-structured interviews with 20 persons on their working conditions and caring responsibilities. We find that cognitions of commitments and responsibilities are shaped in interaction in families not mainly through explicit negotiations but through practises shaping work and care discourses and definitions of identity, family culture, work commitment etc., thereby also (re-)shaping the practices. The division of care work in the family is negotiated in a context where public elderly care is available but not generally accepted as a viable alternative, making the definition of public elderly care as "good enough" one possible strategy. In the negotiation of commitments, gender is shaping and is shaped by other factors or arguments, e.g. family history, emotional closeness and family culture, used in accounting for the division of responsibility for care among siblings. These negotiations, and the conceptions and care practises they shape, are significant because they influence gender equality through defining the limits of commitments in the family and at work.

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