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The tangled webs we weave: Household strategies to co-ordinate home and work

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Helen Jarvis


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The connections between home and work are manifest in tensions which exist between individual employment mobility and the social and spatial situatedness of the household micro-economy. This nexus is a significant dimension of a growing number of dual earning households. At a fundamental level, the co-ordination of home and work hinges on opportunities and constraints pertaining to residential location and mobility and the way this issue is negotiated through the life-course. However, this is not simply determined by the many logistical difficulties associated with the co-ordination of more than one employment from a single residential location. Households are 'situated' in place in a variety of ways which feed into strategies of relative mobility and attachment to place. It is suggested that the way that households accommodate the demands of home and work are constituted through a meshing together of the action spaces and social relations of individual household members in these spheres. In effect, household behaviour emerges from a 'tangled web' of networks: of social and kin relations; of resource provision; and of information, knowledge and learning. This paper argues for the need to attend to the situatedness of household strategies that attempt to co-ordinate home and work. It suggests that this is achieved by observing the way strategies of relative mobility and attachment to place reproduce, and are reproduced through, networks within a locale. Existing concepts of strategy and network are combined and operationalised together through the interpretation of biographical narratives from interviews with couples from a sample of nuclear family households.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jarvis H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Work, Employment and Society

Year: 1999

Volume: 13

Issue: 2

Pages: 225-247

Print publication date: 01/06/1999

ISSN (print): 0950-0170

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8722

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/09500179922117926


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