Work study

You may have heard about the study carried out by Catherine Hakim, which claims to debunk some entrenched feminist myths. Hakim claims, amongst other things, that women do not do more work than men, when both paid and unpaid work such as childcare and housework are added together. (She does state, however, that this isn’t the case for couples with young children where both partners are in full time employment. Women do tend to do more work than men in that situation.) She also claims that ‘Individualisation frees people from the influence of social class, nation, and family. Personal life goals become more important. Men and women do not only gain the freedom to choose their own biography, values and lifestyle, they are forced to make their own decisions because there are no universal certainties or collectively agreed conventions, no fixed models of the good life.’ I’m rather dubious about this claim, since it seems to ignore the fact that there are still quite rigid, gendered expectations on men and women in our society. I haven’t got time to write any more about this now – I should have started work about an hour ago (oops), but you can read more for yourselves here. A copy of the paper can also be downloaded from that site.

7 thoughts on “Work study

  1. “Individualisation frees people from the influence of social class, nation, and family”

    Is this even falsifiable?

  2. The report gives absolutely no indication of how Hakim reached her conclusions. How are activities classified into the various kinds of work (and non-work)? How reliable is the dataset and the time-use surveys it’s based upon? (Time-use surveys are cheap, but not always very reliable.) How much time do, say, men without children spend doing domestic work — what’s the mean and the standard deviation? Likewise with other groups of people and other types of activities. Once other factors are controlled for (race, class, age, education, &c.), are the differences between genders statistically significant? How about within various groups?

    Without answers to these sorts of methodological questions, Hakim might as well just wave her hands and say `boo feminists!’ in a scary ghost voice. Why is the LSE releasing a press release about a publication to a popular (in the sense of non-academic) politics magazine?

  3. Any regulars who happen to read this: this is my real first and last name. I used to comment frequently as `Noumena’, then decided a couple months ago that I no longer wanted to be pseudo-anonymous. (My comments always had a link to a page with my real identity.) Please feel free to just use my first name!

    And Monkey — thanks!

  4. I’ve read other studies as an undergrad and active feminist, which also comment that the *amount* of work being undertaken by men and women in the household and with childcare is becoming more equally distributed. However, what was interesting is that the studies often commented on the *management* of the work still falling to women and that this was invisible as additional work being carried out. Management would be described as managing the kids play dates, or the distribution of chores, the follow up if they haven’t been done, meal planning etc.

    Apologies for not having the studies to hand at present, I’m at work but really wanted to comment as I’d come across similar conclusions but with different qualifying information in the discussion of the papers.

Comments are closed.