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The Junior Research Group examines the relationship between love and work between couples where both partners work in highly qualified professions – so-called Dual Career Couples – and analyses structures of recognition and inequalities between genders. With an increase in the employment of women the traditional gender roles, where men are valued for working and providing an income and women for domestic and family work, now falter. The erosion of this system is especially clear with Dual Career Couples, where two people with similar professional backgrounds learn to compromise with each other. As these couples arrange their daily life between work and family, light is shed on the adjustments both genders make in relation to each other, as well as changes in societal roles. Will the previous boundaries between work and family become more blurred? For what do partners who both work recognize and respect each other? Will there be more equality between the two? The research also poses questions regarding professional settings: Have employers, for example, responded to Dual Career Couples? Changing family, legal and political regulations are also examined.

The Emmy-Noether Junior Research Group is founded by the German Research Foundation and consists of three subprojects.

1. Dual Career Couples

By means of interviews, the life situation and arrangements of everyday life between the poles of work and family are studied: How is it possible to combine two careers with a private life? What chances are there for recognition to exist? What is it that partners recognise in each other? What kind of inequalities can be discerned? To what extent is this related to social values? Interview questions are, for example, how the respective partner assesses the various areas of life (e.g. family, job, leisure time, volunteer work) and in what relation they are set among each other. It is also of interest, how work-related aspects and requirements influence the (gender-specific unequal) chances of recognition.

2. Work Organisation

The aim of these case studies is to determine different approaches of selected companies in dealing with Dual Career Couples. Do DCC’s address their employers with special needs? How do employers try to adapt to those needs? In what relation does this adjustment by the company stand to issues like ‛family-friendly work policy’ or ‛work-life balance’? Furthermore, the companies’ motives for dealing with DCC’s are analysed: Is the life situation of DCC’s taken into consideration by companies because DCC’s are potentially very qualified staff members? Is it about the promotion of equal opportunities and gender equality? Or is it about a family-friendly work policy? The study of these motives is essential as it can give further insight into prevalent social values.

3. Socio-political Regulations

In this sub-project, the group analyses regulations pertaining to the socio-political field, especially social law and family law, that affect couples in general and DCCs in particular as well as the formation and understanding of gender roles. Current reforms of the social welfare state system are also analysed under these aspects. So far, there are indications that – despite the initiation of a number of family-friendly policies, for example the introduction of parenting money in 2007 – the unequal recognition of gainful employment and family work remains unimpaired. Also, an increasing commodification and significance of gainful employment can be observed.