The Flexibility Paradox: Why flexible working leads to more work and what we can do about that
Lecture and discussion
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible working has become the norm for many workers. However, does flexible working really provide a better work-life balance, enhance worker’s well-being and gender equality? Heejung Chung, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Kent will reflect upon this theme, in a guest lecture in Utrecht, on June 1. This meeting is hosted by ERI and the Future of Work hub en will take place in a meeting room of Museum Speelklok in Utrecht.
Using empirical data from across Europe and drawing from studies across the world, Prof Chung will evidence how flexible working can lead to workers working longer and harder, with work encroaching on family life. She argues that this is largely due to our current work and work-life balance culture, where long hours work in the office is hailed as the ideal productive worker and where individuals are pushed to believe that they are the entrepreneurs of their own lives.
The way we think about work, home and gender roles
This is compounded by the decline in workers’ bargaining power and increased levels of insecurities with the decline of the welfare state. Similarly, norms around gender roles and intensive parenting cultures shape how the patterns of exploitation manifests differently for women and men. Women end up exploiting themselves at home by increasing time spent on childcare and housework, reenforcing traditional gender roles. This, and assumptions around women’s flexible working can explain why women and mothers may especially be party to negative career consequences when working flexibly.
However, all is not lost. Prof Chung argues that changes in the way we think about work, work life balance and gender roles can help shape the outcomes of flexible working.
About Heejung Chung
Heejung Chung is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent. She is a comparative labour market researcher interested in how working conditions influences workers’ well-being, work-life balance and gender equality. She was the Principal Investigator of the UK Research Council Funded project Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance and the author of the book The Flexibility Paradox: Why flexible working leads to (self-)exploitation, published by Policy Press. For a discounted price, sign up to the Policy Press mailing list (35% off) or use this code: POTFP22(30% off)
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