Towards a shared conciliation?

Special issue on

Towards a shared conciliation? Facing work-family challenges in a time of crisis and social transformations

Edited by: Paola Bonizzoni (Università degli Studi di Milano), Daniela Falcinelli (Università degli Studi di Milano), Sveva Magaraggia (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca)

This monographic issue aims to encourage scholars belonging to different disciplines (such as sociology, political science, philosophy) to reflect upon work-family reconciliation dilemmas rooted in some radical tensions and social transformations observed in contemporary societies, both in the sphere of work and in the one of intimate relationships.

Over the last few years, the economic crisis, rising rates of work precarity and unemployment – especially among young people – are amplifying class and gender inequalities. These radical social changes are modifying – on the one hand – individual work choices and strategies and – on the other hand – the possible solutions and resources offered (or imposed) by work organizations and welfare states.

At the same time, a profound transformation of family structures and ways of “doing family” can be observed in contemporary European societies. Non-traditional family forms – such as same-sex, single and divorced parents, step-parents and blended families, let alone migrant and ethnic minority households (both local, transnational and “living apart together”) – are in fact being increasingly recognized by scholars. These micro and macro social transformations can have a great impact on the strategies men and women follow in order to balance work, family and private life, as well as on gender roles, even though the specificity of their reconciliation practices still has to be explored in full detail.

Much work on family-reconciliation have, in fact, conceived it as a matter concerning first and foremost (when not exclusively) women, also normalizing the experience of white, middle class heterosexual two-parent families in stable jobs. We also ask therefore whether it could be more effective to speak about sharing or shared conciliation, the terms more often used in the debate (such as balancing, or flexibility) being strongly centered on women’s unpaid labor.

The aim of this monographic issue is to grasp these transformations in order to better understand whether the discourse about healing the wide gap between being parents and being workers shall change, and if so, in what way, reflecting on how care and domestic responsibilities are shared under these new circumstances, and shifting the work-family reconciliation debate to some new, urgent and under-researched issues.

  • Do the recent transformations in the sphere of work (rising rates of precarity, self-employment, informality, low-wage jobs, layoffs…) lead to new experiences (in terms of challenges, resources and strategies) of doing reconciliation? How do growing economic inequalities impact on work -family and private life reconciliation processes? How do partners belonging to different social classes share?
  • How do new family forms face the work-family reconciliation challenge? How do same-sex couples and parents, families after having experienced separation or divorce, step-parents and blended families, care for their children and elderly? How do increasingly mobile (migrant, pluri-local, transnational…) families manage care and domestic responsibilities? Do their experiences lead us to acknowledge innovative ways of “doing reconciliation” or to new inequalities and forms of exclusion?
  • How do these changes impact on the meaning care and caring have for people and societies? What meanings are imbued with the dimension of care, of caring for the future of other people (i.e. dependent relatives and fragile subjects) in an environment of increasingly precarious time horizons for both life and work? Which potential for change can we grasp in masculinities and femininities when care is practiced under different, and new, family conditions? How does care change if it is really shared between partners?

Contributions should be the minimum length of 6,000 words and written in one of the two languages in which the magazine is it is published (Italian and English), see the Authors guidelines for any further information.

Contributions must be sent by 25th April 2014

ISSN: 2279-5057