Reconciling Work and Family in a Multi-Active Society
Institutions and governments are aware of this. Already, in the 1990s, the European Commission placed on its agenda the topic of ‘reconciliation of work and family life’. The European Directive on parental leave adopted in 1996 constituted a strong signal in the countries of the European Union. In Belgium, many policies were pursued, including measures regarding leave of absences for family or time entitlement/career pause reasons, and those involving support structures for early childhood or services titles that enable externalising certain domestic tasks.
Still, we must acknowledge that these measures are ultimately corrections to concrete problems with work-family interface, but do not manage to provide a satisfactory, lasting overall solution. Why? Our argument is that these measures do not address the problem’s root causes, that is, the way that productive functions (production of goods and services necessary to existence) and reproductive functions (the biological reproduction of humanity and its workforce) are societally given shape and direction, which we call the work-family regime. At present, we are not only witnessing the erosion of labour society but a related crisis in the work-family regime.
For this contribution, we must reimagine the system of work-family interface by referring to a scenario showing another normativity: the organisation of a multi-active society.