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Title: An exploration of parenting : normative expectations, practices and work-life balance in post-apartheid South Africa, 1994-2008
Author: Maqubela, Lucille N.
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores the complexities of parenting in post-apartheid South Africa. It investigates the normative expectations surrounding motherhood and fatherhood and how employed mothers, as those who bear the main responsibility for childcare, reconcile family and paid work. It is a qualitative study which draws on 43 interviews with women and men managers in a Government Department and a Parastatal. Thirty seven interviews were with managers (21 mothers and 16 fathers), 3 with gender experts in these organisations, and 3 with Human Resources personnel. It also draws on an analysis of domestic divisions of labour in 3 households and an exploration of national legislation and workplace policies to examine how the workplace accommodates those with family/childcare responsibilities. The study demonstrates that South African parenting is complex: parental norms encapsulate the coexistence of modern and traditional values (Inglehart and Baker, 2003; Hotchfeld, 2008), rather than following a linear pattern of change from traditional to modern. Moreover, there are inconsistencies in values and normative expectations relating to gender-role attitudes and parenting expectations, as well as between gender-role attitudes and parenting practices. Incongruencies and contradictions in relation to parenting are also found between and within domains: the fast-changing workplace brought about by the new democratic government‟s commitment to equality and the subsequent transformation of the public sector contrasts with the „stalled revolution‟ in parenting practices, especially in relation domestic divisions of labour, within the domestic sphere. Using Squires‟s (2005) typology of inclusion, reversal and displacement to analyze South African approaches to workplace gender transformation, the study establishes that South Africa has adopted policies based on inclusion and reversal and has left out displacement, thus increasing women‟s representation at the workplace without challenging the status quo. To this effect the workplace has remained masculineoriented; it is characterized by a long-working hours regime and minimal work-life balance policies. As a result mothers are facing difficulties in reconciling family and paid work. However, women mobilize support outside the workplace to cope with the demands of family and paid work. The study shows that the support networks mobilized by women are influenced by socio-economic and geographical mobility associated with the rise of the new black middle-class families brought about by the political change from apartheid to democracy. The migration of families from working to middle-class areas demonstrates the fluidity of mothering and coping strategies; while fathers remain free from childcare and family responsibilities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Council ; Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DT Africa ; HC Economic History and Conditions ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman