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Work-life balance/imbalance: The dominance of the middle class and the neglect of the working class

Warren, Tracey

Authors



Abstract

© 2015 London School of Economics and Political Science. The paper was stimulated by the relative absence of the working class from work-life debates. The common conclusion from work-life studies is that work-life imbalance is largely a middle-class problem. It is argued here that this classed assertion is a direct outcome of a particular and narrow interpretation of work-life imbalance in which time is seen to be the major cause of difficulty. Labour market time, and too much of it, dominates the conceptualization of work-life and its measurement too. This heavy focus on too much labour market time has rendered largely invisible from dominant work-life discourses the types of imbalance that are more likely to impact the working class. The paper's analysis of large UK data-sets demonstrates a reduction in hours worked by working-class men, more part-time employment in working-class occupations, and a substantial growth in levels of reported financial insecurity amongst the working classes after the 2008-9 recession. It shows too that economic-based work-life imbalance is associated with lower levels of life satisfaction than is temporal imbalance. The paper concludes that the dominant conceptualization of work-life disregards the major work-life challenge experienced by the working class: economic precarity. The work-life balance debate needs to more fully incorporate economic-based work-life imbalance if it is to better represent class inequalities.

Citation

Warren, T. (2015). Work-life balance/imbalance: The dominance of the middle class and the neglect of the working class. British Journal of Sociology, 66(4), 691-717. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12160

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2015
Online Publication Date Oct 21, 2015
Publication Date Dec 16, 2015
Deposit Date Nov 6, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 6, 2015
Journal British Journal of Sociology
Print ISSN 0007-1315
Electronic ISSN 1468-4446
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 66
Issue 4
Pages 691-717
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12160
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/30660
Publisher URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-4446.12160/abstract
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0
Additional Information This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Warren, T. (2015), Work–life balance/imbalance: the dominance of the middle class and the neglect of the working class. The British Journal of Sociology. doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12160, which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-4446.12160/abstract. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

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Warren, T. Work-life balance.pdf (122 Kb)
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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0


Warren, T. Work-life balance_Table 1.pdf (91 Kb)
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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0





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