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Rethinking the Domestic Division of Labour: Exploring Change and Continuity in the Context of Redundancy

Garcia, Reece and Tomlinson, Jennifer (2020) Rethinking the Domestic Division of Labour: Exploring Change and Continuity in the Context of Redundancy. Sociology. ISSN 0038-0385

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Abstract

This article explores changes to the domestic division of labour and how these are negotiated, following both female and male redundancy among heterosexual dual-earning couples in the north of England. Using a qualitative, longitudinal research design, we engage with and extend relative resource bargaining theory to consider its different manifestations in the negotiation process, in relation to ‘silent bargaining’ and collaborative decision making over time availability and earnings. Despite espousing egalitarian attitudes, couples were found to ‘do’ gender to varying extents, with women typically taking on greater shares of the domestic division of labour even in cases of male redundancy. In the absence of explicit negotiation, a range of implicit strategies to resist changes in the domestic division of labour was evident in some cases, alongside more overtly conflictual tactics to both evoke, and resist, change. In the main, men were found to be more instrumental in their attempts to secure a preferred domestic division of labour than women.

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