A Reflection on Social Class Differences in Australian Mothers' Experiences of Full-Time Employment and Family Life

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 3:15 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Kate HUPPATZ , University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
In Australia, as in many other countries, a growing proportion of mothers, whether they are wealthy or poor are participating in full-time employment (AIFS, 2008). This paper will examine social class differences in mothers’ experiences of full-time employment and family life. Drawing on qualitative interviews with mothers who live in NSW, I will examine how differently classed mothers in full-time employment negotiate workplace obligations, unpaid labour in the home, parent-child relationships and romantic relationships. This paper will argue that, while mothers in white collar occupations are rich in economic and cultural capital, the increasing demands of middle-class employment create a ‘time deficit’, which may deplete women’s capacities to genuinely attain ‘the good life’, associated with their class positions. At the same time, full-time employment is rarely compatible with the ideals of ‘good motherhood’, regardless of a woman’s social class location.