Leisure, family and work in the lifestyles of dual-earner families
Such, Elizabeth (2001) Leisure, family and work in the lifestyles of dual-earner families. In: ESRC seminar: Impact of a Changing Labour Market on Families, Children and Mental Health: building researchuser alliances, 7 November 2001, University of Aberdeen. (Unpublished)
This paper examines the role of leisure in the lifestyles of dual-earner families. It explores leisure as a dimension of lifestyle that has been relatively under-researched, despite a burgeoning interest in the dual-earner family in both academic research and policy and political contexts. Although it has been generally acknowledged that leisure is a vital component of daily life, much social scientific research has focussed on the relationship between family and employment in dual-earner families and analyses of leisure have been relatively incomplete (for example Hochschild, 1989; Scott and Duncombe, 1992; Gregson and Lowe, 1993, 1994). In a policy context, family-related policy discourse has highlighted the problems dual-earner families face trying to reconcile the demands of work and home and achieve a 'work-life balance', but explicit references to leisure are almost absent from debate. Scholars within the interdisciplinary field of leisure studies have, however, argued that a leisure dimension to research and analysis offers additional insight into daily life that can enhance existing academic and policy debate (for example Deem, 1999; Kay, 2000). The paper begins by examining some of the contributions leisure researchers have made to an understanding of the role of leisure in lifestyle and some of the definitional problems associated with the concept 'leisure'. The second part of the paper utilises data from in-depth interviews with dual-earner couples with dependent children to explore the leisure behaviours and orientations of men and women in dual-earner families in the context of their everyday lives, and the ways in which leisure interacts with the employment and family lives of couples. The findings from the fieldwork for the study focus on how the men and women in the study group attribute 'priority' to paid work, domestic work, family life and leisure, and how lifestyle 'hierarchies' differ between men and women. The results also reveal that individuals in couples 'strategize' daily life in order to access leisure, but that family and gender ideologies impact on the nature of the strategy adopted and its perceived 'appropriateness'. The paper concludes with a discussion of the value of including leisure in analyses of dual-earner family life and the contribution it can make to research and policy debate.
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