Article in the Journal of European Social Policy: Same but different: Polish and Norwegian parents’ work–family adaptations in Norway

This article explores how families with young children arrive at and live with different work–family adaptations within a welfare state that strongly supports the dual earner/dual carer model—that of Norway. It draws on a qualitative study among Norwegian-born and Polish-born parents, representing respectively ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ views on this model. The analysis aims at capturing the dynamic interplay between structures and policies, and everyday practices. We found that both Norwegian and Polish parents embraced the cultural ideal of the dual earner/dual carer model, but that their perceived scope of action differed. Within the Norwegian group there were differences related to class, however. Among middle-class Norwegian parents, the model was internalised as a moral obligation and part of identity, making it difficult to voice and cope with work–family conflict. Working-class parents in this group, varied more in their identification with this model. Across class, Polish parents, in contrast, used welfare state entitlements eclectically to shape new and more gender equal family practices in Norway, and to adjust to changing circumstances. The article illustrates how enabling structures may represent both opportunities for and limitation to individual agency, undermining the assumption of a simple ‘fit’ between work–family policies, work–family adaptations and gender equality in the family.

Bjørnholt, Margunn; Stefansen, Kari (2018). Same but different: Polish and Norwegian parents’ work–family adaptations in Norway (PDF). Journal of European Social Policy, 29(2), 292–304. doi: 10.1177/0958928718758824