Gendered Life Courses and Personal Networks in Switzerland
Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:05 AM
Individual life courses may be defined as sequences of status profiles. They are multidimensional in the sense that they unfold simultaneously in various interdependent life domains such as family and occupation. In the Swiss welfare state system, family is considered as a private matter and only limited extra-familial childcare facilities are provided. Hence, in Switzerland, transition to parenthood often leads to life course gendering regarding these two central domains. While most men follow full-time employment trajectories, most women withdraw, temporarily or not, from the labor market by choosing part-time jobs that are structurally more compatible with raising children. Correlatively, the personal networks of relationships in which individuals are embedded are also gendered. Fostering relationships, either with family members or with other close people, has often been described as a woman's role. This gendered social participation of women and men further leads to the development of differentiated social resources and relational interdependencies. This raises several questions. What are the main differences between personal networks of women and men? To which extent are these differences explained by gendered life courses? Do women following full-time employment trajectories develop similar networks as men do?
Based on a representative sample of 803 individuals living in Switzerland and belonging to two distinct birth cohorts (1950-55 and 1970-75), this communication explores women's and men's personal networks in light of linked occupational and familial trajectories. First, using multichannel sequence analysis, we create bi-dimensional typologies linking occupational and familial trajectories. Second, using personal networks composed of the very significant others, we distinguish several kinds of resources (exchanges of emotional support, network size, socio-economic status of network members, etc.). Results show that a multidimensional perspective of trajectories helps explaining “structural doing gender” by providing a better understanding of social resources and relational interdependencies.