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Reconciling Family and Employment

by Amélie Guisseau last modified 27-07-2010 09:57




Knijn Trudie Barbara Hobson

KNIJN Trudie email

HOBSON Barbara email

P06 - University of Utrecht P23 - University of Stockholm


The objective of WP02 is to improve knowledge on the tensions between increased fluidity in family forms and enhanced flexibility in employment patterns and relationships.   


Data Collection

The aim is to develop indicators for evaluating work life balance practices, policies and norms at the workplace level, at the state level, as well as guidelines and benchmarks at the EU level.  Researchers aim to develop an instrument for implementing a capabilities approach on the household level that brings together individual agencies to achieve a better-balanced work life.

Data collection involves a three tier approach, elaborated in close cooperation with the EDACwowe: (i) policy mapping of both national and EU level social policies and policy studies on the reconciliation of work and family life from the perspective of its implications for promoting employability, welfare and gender-equality; (ii) collating indicators at the firm-level on the take-up rates of flexible hours within the context of workplace obstacles and barriers that parents face in securing individual flexible working hours arrangements; (iii) household survey data on the strategies of individuals to create a worklife balance. Once gathered and harmonised, these data are made accessible through the EDACwowe’s data bank website.

One data inventory has been produced by WP02 so far:

D02.01 State of the art report based upon analysis of data indicators and the gaps in existing data collection, P06 - University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, Month 12 - September 2007 (Private)


Integrating Activities

At the European level, the tensions between increased fluidity in family forms and enhanced flexibility in employment patterns and relationships are articulated as two cross currents: on the one side are employment/family reconciliation pressures, on the other side are the pressures families face with increasing numbers of temporary and insecure jobs that intensify the risks for family formation and family care. A capability approach appears more an dmore relevant to tensions resulting form the rising expectations for work family balance and the ability to achieve it.

During its second year of activity, WP02 launched a transferable survey instrument (T02.03) that seeks to operationalise and measure 'capabilities' at the household level. This innovative instrument will shed far greater light that previous research on the extent and nature of the tensions parents experience in their attempts to to find a work family balance. Also during the second year, two tasks (T02.11 and T02.12) focused on firm/organizational level anlysing the tensions between potential use of policy innovations for WFB and the constraints in organisational work and work cultures in specific firms.

Two other new tasks are continuation and extension of earlier tasks. The first one (T02.23) studies the tensions between work and family life from a dynamic and linked lives perspective. The second one (T02.24) provides an overview of tensions taht emerge as a consequence of the strengthening of economic principles in the field of childcare and elderly care.

Finally two new tasks were added to WP02:
  • One proposal, T02.21: 'An ecology of life courses and associated flows of ressources' seeks to develop an overview of life courses (comprising the totality of the various life courses: men, women, migrants... in a given country at a specified moment) in the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and Denmark.
  • A second proposal, T02.22: 'Fertility, female emplyment and reconciliation policies' seeks to fil a gap on the role of increased labour market flexibility and the presence of reconciliation policies for combining family and employment in relation to different fertility regimes accross Europe in the early 21st century.



  • Working papers:

- Alexander Goerne, The Capability Approach in social policy analysis. Yet another concept?

- Trudie Knijn, Arnoud Smit, The Relationship between Family and Work

- Laura den Dulk, Bram Peper, Managing work-life policies in the European workplace

- Barbara Hobson, Susanne Fahlén, Applying Sen’s Capabilities Framework to Work Family Balance within a European Context


  • Papers:

Papers presented in the frame of WP02


  • Activity reports:





Policy Innovations at national and company level that promote work Family Balance

organised by the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (P24 - UL-FDV) on February 13, 2009.



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