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Exploring the domestic division of labor when both parents are involuntarily working from home: the effects of the UK COVID pandemic

Garcia, Reece ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8052-9160 (2022) Exploring the domestic division of labor when both parents are involuntarily working from home: the effects of the UK COVID pandemic. Gender, Work and Organization, 29 (4). pp. 1065-1081. ISSN 0968-6673

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Abstract

As part of the UK's response to the COVID pandemic many co-habiting parents simultaneously began working from home, often involuntarily, potentially disrupting established divisions of domestic labor. Through 30 qualitative interviews with 15 heterosexual dual-earning parents, this article explores the extent and nature of changes in respective labor allocations following the transition to home working. The data reveals that both women and men increased their time spent on domestic labor, though typically men's changes were insufficient to overturn pre-existing unequal divisions, and women were more likely to reduce their employment hours to “better” balance caring and housework responsibilities. Men were also likely to see their increased domestic contributions as temporary during these exceptional circumstances with evidence of couples “doing” gender. Where partners did transition toward greater egalitarianism, men were actively taking ownership of new unpaid tasks and adapting their (gendered) familial identities as their work and family roles changed.

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