Volume 33, Issue 9/10 (2013)
Guest Editors: Abigail Gregory, University of Salford, UK, and Susan Milner, University of Bath, UK; Jan Windebank, University of Sheffield, UK
As growth in Western economies flat lines and governments seek to significantly reduce public debt, evidence abounds as to the impact of this downturn on jobs and living standards. How then has work/life balance policy and practice, so much in its ascendancy before the financial crisis of the late 2000s, been affected by recession? Owen et al (2009) argue that work/life balance and diversity initiatives, as well as the right to request flexible working, are likely to be given lower priority by employers during the current recession. A survey of 3000 full-time employees by the Cornwall Development Agency in 2011 found that work/life balance had deteriorated since the economic downturn with one third experiencing an increase in working time, impacting on family and friends. Conversely, in many countries, employers are turning to short-time working as a response to the crisis, and rates of part-time work have risen. How might we characterise and explain, therefore, the influence of the recession on work-time practices? And how are these processes gendered? How might these differ across different sectors of the economy or in specific national contexts?
The European Commission’s (2010) Equality between Women and Men report clearly indicates that the recession may jeopardize achievements in gender equality and that the effects of the recession will put greater pressure on women. But do changes in working hours and patterns automatically result in a deterioration of work/life balance and penalize women? Or could certain changes, such as employer-led flexible working, actually bring benefits (see for example Perrons, 2006), for example by drawing fathers more fully into childcare and evening out the domestic division of labour?
And how might responses to the recession be shaping work-life balance policy? The UK government’s decision to slow the implementation of further increases to maternity leave and of increased employee-led flexible working indicates that work/life balance policy too is highly contingent on economic conditions. Is this response reflected in other national contexts and how have social partners responded to these changes?
This Call for Papers asks what changes are taking place in work-life balance policy and practice during recession and how are organizations, social partners, individuals and families responding to this? What models can we draw on to explain change in this area? Papers are sought which address the impact of recession on work/life balance policy and practice, including the following areas.
- changes to work/life balance policy and practice
- response to change by social partners:
- consequences of changes in policy and practice for specific groups (mothers, fathers, households etc.) and across occupations, social classes and individuals;
- the relationship between formal and informal organizational policies in times of recession.
Papers which address the link between organizational work-life balance practices and national policy priorities or regimes are also welcome, as are those which focus on particular sectors of employment.
Please send full paper in the International Journal for Sociology and Social Policy format via ScholarOne online submission (see the journal’s Author instructions) by October 31 2012. Authors will be contacted by end March 2013 with a final decision on inclusion in the Special Issue. All submissions will be subject to full peer review.