Work-Life Balance through the Prism of Biography: A Case of Russian Middle-Class Women

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Polina SAZONOVA, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Tomsk State University, Russia
In contemporary society, built on the idea of labor, the individuals’ lives, and especially women’s lives, have become the crossroads of work and family, career and care, income and household, and can, therefore, be regarded as an arena for balance or imbalance in the life tasks set by the individual. The collapse of the Soviet Union and further transformations in the economic and the social spheres influence everyday life of Russian families and the repertoire of typical women biographies. The break of the state-sponsored gender contract of ‘the working mother’ forced women to form more independent strategies that would allow combining paid labor with family-related duties and mothering. This affected to a greater extent middle-class women, who study longer and set more ambitious career goals. The research draws on the combination of the structural-functionalist and biographical research methods and aimed at finding a social typology of reproducible biographical patterns of a combination of public and private self-realization, which depend on the pre-given circumstances (including institutional frameworks and cultural stereotypes), but also can be indirectly attributed to the self-management of biography. Empirical evidence for the research is the analysis of the biographical interviews that were conducted in 2015-2017 in the middle-sized Russian cities of Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk.