English title: The Division of Labour Among European Couples: The Effects of Life Course and Welfare Policy on Value–Practice Configurations

Author(s): Felix Bühlmann - Guy Elcheroth - Manuel Tettamanti -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2010


Even though egalitarian gender values are increasingly spreading among younger Europeans, division of labour does not always comply with this trend. Traditional theories of familial behaviour struggle to explain the resulting paradoxical simultaneity of egalitarian values and inegalitarian practices. In this article, we propose an approach based on the ideas that (i) practices are the translation of values moderated by specific social structures and (ii) incoherencies between values and practices are biographically unstable. Therefore, the biographical stage and welfare policies support or hinder couples in realizing their values in the form of specific divisions of work. On the basis of the multi-level regression analyses of data from the European Social Survey 2004, we show that while most of the European heterosexual couples live in coherent egalitarian configurations of values and practices in their pre-parental phase, they shift to a situation of tension between egalitarian values and gendered practices following the births of their first children. In addition, the magnitude of this shift is strongly moderated by welfare policies. In liberal regimes, the tension between values and practices is transformed into an enduring accommodation to inequality, whereas in socio-democratic regimes, change to unequal practices is rarer and reversible.

Volume: 26

Issue: 1

From page no: 49

To page no: 66

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1093/ESR/JCP004

Journal: European Sociological Review

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