Negotiating gender divisions of labour : the role of household strategies in explaining residential mobility in Britain
The profile and geography of employment in Britain is undergoing considerable change. This is demonstrated most visibly in terms of gender composition; in rising numbers of women in paid employment; the replacement of full time with part time employment; in de-regulation and the proliferation of temporary and insecure employment. With increasing numbers of 'wives' and 'mothers' in paid employment this restructuring is reflected in a new and changing geography of household divisions of labour. Paradoxically, this global push towards greater labour market flexibility has implications for reduced labour mobility. Conventionally, a mobile labour force is considered the mainstay of a flexible labour market. A paradox emerges from an understanding that, rather than being individuated, labour is situated within particular household structures. Moreover, within such structures the co-ordination of home and work imposes further significant (time-space) constraints. These constraints suggest that decisions concerning residential location must increasingly facilitate both male and female employment as well as daily household practices of consumption, production and reproduction. Frequently, such practices entail an intimate connection between the household and networks of paid and unpaid labour which are rooted in the locale. This thesis provides both a conceptual and an empirical link between housing and labour markets. It draws upon multiple method research to consider the extent to which a causal relationship exists between household employment structure and relative rates of residential mobility. Secondary data from the UK Census of Population provides an extensive backdrop of trends for Britain in the 1990's. Qualitative biographical research provides insight into the processes of residential mobility such as those of 'bargaining power' in household decision-making. Evidence from the extensive research suggests that single earner households are more mobile than households with two full time earners. Household biographies demonstrate, however, that residential mobility behaviour is inadequately explained by economic factors alone.