Strengthening Working Families in Western and Non-Western Societies: Effective Policies and Programs
Families in which both parents work are becoming the norm in both Western and non-Western countries. Moreover, single parent working families are also on the rise. However, in many societies around the globe, social policies to support work-family reconciliation, have not kept pace with the changes in labor markets and families. In the absence of supportive policies, current trends in workplaces and in families often lead to considerable conflicts and stress for individuals who are in the labor force and their families. At times, this stress even leads to emotional, psychological, and / or physical violence. Some societies, specifically in Europe and Asia, have consciously embraced fundamental family and work transformations and have implemented policies and programs that support both individuals and employers. These policies and programs have led to better couple and parenting relationships, and in general, to healthier, stronger family lives. However, in many places, including across much of the United States, policies that support working families are rare, and if they do exist, are not available to all citizens.
Research also indicates that gender is a primary factor in implementing policies and programs related to work-family reconciliation: the negotiation of work-family issues, especially with respect to informal caretaking needs, often varies between men and women, again depending on the cultural norms of the society and even of specific communities. However a scholarly focus primarily on Western societies, has resulted in policy recommendations that are primarily appropriate for those contexts. This session will examine all of these issues.