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Women, work–life balance and quality of life: case studies from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

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In this editorial we introduce the key themes explored by the articles that make up this themed section on ‘Women, work–life balance and quality of life’. As a collection, the articles emphasise the complexity of trying to define what work–life balance means to different groups of men and women in three locales (Bristol, West London and Dublin), highlighting that trying to attribute meaning to this concept is at the very least problematic. They do, however, paint a picture of persistent gendered inequality. Within the context of neo-liberal economic policy ‘encouraging’ women to take up paid work and training, it is still women rather than men who continue to be responsible for the tasks of social reproduction. The concept of work–life balance ignores the often blurred and ultimately socially constructed nature of what counts as work and what does not and tends to mask the large amount of reproductive work performed by women in the private sphere. Moreover, the research presented here makes clear that contours of power and powerful relations run through the conceptualisation of work–life balance as well as its practice and promotion by government, organisations and individuals.

Keywords: calidad de vida; equilibrio trabajo-vida personal; paid work; poder; power; quality of life; reproducción social; social reproduction; trabajo pago; work–life balance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Centre for Human Geography, Brunel University, UxbridgeUB8 3PH, UK

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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