Increasing numbers of women, including mothers, in employment has become a major European objective, for reasons of both gender equality and economic regeneration. Their past allocation to the home may not have been fair to women, but it did ensure that caring and domestic work was achieved. The new scenario has brought with it considerable social change, including the erosion of the 'traditional' family, declining fertility, and growing problems of work-life 'balance'. The authors addres these topics, drawing on quantitative and qualitative research materials from Britain, France, The Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Portugal. Many of the chapters undertake comparative analysis, drawing on evidence from these countries, thereby facilitating a realistic evaluation of the policy options available. Wider questions, including the consequence of these changes for gender and class inequalities, are also addressed.
Economic recessions and periods of growth are manifestations of change which have a direct effect on the experience of employees, households and work organizations. The authors examine these trends which generate pressure towards a reshaping of social institutions in three ways: changes in the organizsation of production, particularly those associated with the growth of service dominated economies: the effects of technological change, particularly those associated with ICT: and the erosion of the 'male breadwinner' (or single earner) model of employment and household.