Thursday, 10 April 2014

24/7 and getting faster: Work, family and wellbeing in an accelerating society

Discussion with Dr. Lyndall Strazdins, Australien National University

Every day, families negotiate and adapt to an array of institutions and social processes, one of the most powerful of these is the market. Although parents may strive to separate them, the intimate world of caring, nurturing, and raising children takes place in the context of another imperative – employment. There is much at stake in how families and nations handle the connections between family care and earning income, raising children and a strong economy: gender equity is one, the generation and distribution of wealth another, and both are connected to health. Dr. Strazdins will discuss sociological and political economy theories on time, along with the notion of the “social factory” whereby an increasing capacity to control people’s time within and beyond the workplace drives contemporary social stratification. She also considers the relevance of Rosa’s notion of social acceleration and Standing’s notion of the Precariat for contemporary work-care dilemmas. These theories provide a point of entry for understanding the way jobs and the labour market are evolving (focusing mainly on Australia), especially the widening gap between high skilled, well-paid jobs with long and intense hours, and low status, poor quality jobs with short or unpredictable hours. The subsequent time-related social divisions that are emerging intersect with gender and life-course and pose real challenges to families, population health, and social and family policy.

Dr. Strazdins is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor (PhD Psychology, Masters of Clinical Psychology) at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, the Australian National University. She has been awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship investigating time as a resource for health, and leads the work and family component of the federally funded Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, a study of 10,000 families.