144.2 Professional women, integration work and risk management in contemporary Chile

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 1:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Ana CARDENAS TOMAZIC , Sociology, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile
Professional Women, Integration Work and Risk Management in Contemporary Chile

One of the most difficult and complex tasks for individuals today seems to be the simultaneous organization and coordination of their everyday life with their biography. During the post-war era, modern social institutions like wage labor, the nuclear family, the life course and professions did regulate people’s lives and made them predictable (Kohli 1985, 1986). Nevertheless, these institutions are currently being deeply transformed (Beck 1986, Beck/Beck-Gernsheim 1994, Kohli 1989, 2007). In this context, women that participate or want to participate in the labor market have special difficulties in dealing with the organization and coordination of everyday life and their biography. Although the institution of the “nuclear family“ is being redefined, the traditional gendered division of labor (at least in Latin America) still prevails, with women mainly in charge of their families’ care needs. Drawing on theories of individualization (Beck 1986; Beck/Beck-Gernsheim 1994; Bolte 2000; Sopp/Beck 1997; Giddens 1996; Bauman 2000), the life course and biography (Böhnisch 2001, Hitzler/Hohner 1994; Hitzler 1999; Pohl/Walther 2006; Kohli, 2007) and everyday life (Jurczyk/Rerrich 1993, Jurczyk/Voß 2000, Voß 1991, 1997), this contribution analyzes the findings of two empirical studies based on 10 life stories of professional women with young children and 7 semi-structured interviews with home-based female professional workers.  The research focuses on how professional women confront the organization and coordination of their everyday life and biography in contemporary Chilean society and the risks that underlie and result from their “integration work” (Cárdenas 2010). As this concept suggests, female workers simultaneously carry out synchronic and diachronic actions via the “identity work” (Keupp 2003, 2005) that defines and redefines the risks they face.