New book: Ann Nilsen et al: Work, families and organisations in transition
Professor Ann Nilsen from the Department of Sociology has co-edited a volume on work and family life balance
Managing work and family life is tough in today's world. Many working mothers and fathers are struggling. Greedy organisations demand as much as they can get out of their workforces. Society places ever higher expectations on parents.
Work, families and organisations in transition: European perspectives is based on a comparative study of organisations and employed parents conducted in seven European countries - Northern and Southern Europe, East and West. Set in the same types of workplaces in each country - finance and public sector organisations - this EU funded study was carried out at a time in which efficiency drives dominated the public sector and short term profiteering was the driving force in the finance sector. The book suggests growing convergence between the public and private sectors in the pressures they exert upon working parents and family life. Work intensification and constant change at the organisational level fuel a sense of insecurity; many parents dare not ask to change their hours or take time off for fear they are seen not to be pulling their weight.
Never have work-life policies been more needed. However the very public and employer led policies that are intended to ameliorate the ills of capitalism and new public management are often undermined by global forces. Parents in some workplaces lack the entitlement to take up employer-led or public policies. In other workplaces parents are poorly supported by their managers while managers themselves are often strapped for resources to cover the eventualities when parents need to work flexibly or take time off when their children are ill. Too often parents lack information about which policies their employers provide while managers are constrained by bureaucratic procedures. Living in strong welfare states as exist in Scandinavia proves to be no guarantee that life is easy for working parents some of whom reported practical obstacles to taking up the generous rights to which they are entitled. But to varying degrees, in all the countries, those who do manage to take advantage of work-life policies are still largely mothers.