Flexibility or flexploitation? Problems with work–life balance in a low-income neighbourhood

Hartley Dean

in Social Policy Review 20

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420763
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303473 | DOI:
Flexibility or flexploitation? Problems with work–life balance in a low-income neighbourhood

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‘Work-life balance’ is a contested notion, involving conflicting interpretations of ‘flexibility’ in relation to employment and family commitments. It may be justified on the basis of social care, a business case or the contemporary public policy compromise. In practice however, people's capacity as employee and family members to achieve the kind of flexibility they want rests on their bargaining power. This chapter draws on findings from a small-scale qualitative investigation of work-life balance in low income neighbourhoods in the UK. It discusses different perspectives on the relationship between the worlds of paid employment and family life; the social welfare perspective, the liberal/business perspective and the ‘Third Way’ public policy perspective. It also discusses bargaining power in relation to employer practices, income maintenance and childcare arrangements. The chapter ends by integrating the analysis of various perspectives on work-life balance with the experiences of households, most of whom were identified as having very limited bargaining power.

Keywords: work-life balance; flexibility; employment; family commitments; low income neighbourhood; paid employment; family life; bargaining power

Chapter.  7585 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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