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Type: Thesis
Title: All in a day’s work: A qualitative analysis of fathers’ uptake of flexible working arrangements, workplace culture, and masculine identity
Author: Borgkvist, Ashlee Rae
Issue Date: 2020
School/Discipline: School of Population Health : Public Health
Abstract: Australian men’s use of flexible working arrangements, including parental leave, is low when compared with women in Australia and also when compared with men in other countries. This impedes their ability to be involved in parenting activities. This thesis will explore why Australian men’s use of flexible working arrangements remains low. Workplace flexibility has been an important way to balance work and life. Access to and organisational support for use of flexibility has been suggested to affect employee health and well-being, reduce employee turnover, and affect organisational commitment (Dorio, Bryant, & Allen, 2008; Pocock, 2005a; Williams, 2000). A wealth of literature suggests that organisational factors are influential in men’s decision making in relation to the use or non-use of flexible working arrangements. This includes managerial support for use of flexibility, perceptions of entitlement to flexibility, and factors such as organisational culture, which sets out norms and organisational expectations for good organisational citizens (Wayne & Cordeiro, 2003). Included in these expectations is the ideal worker norm. Further, gendered expectations regarding who should work and who should provide care within families persist (Deutsch, 2007). Particularly in Australia, masculine identity aa well as fathering identity is tied up in being a financial provider, and these gendered expectations, (re)produced socially and culturally, affect the roles men see as appropriate for them to inhabit (Baxter & Hewitt, 2013). A social constructionist perspective was employed in this research. This framework suggests that meaning is created subjectively, and is (re)produced through social practices, action and interaction with others (Crotty, 1998). Within this framework, the present research was guided by several theoretical perspectives related to gender and organisations: gendered organisational theory, the ideal worker norm, masculinity theory, and feminist theory. These theories complement each other and take a critical approach to the taken-for-granted, which is pertinent when attempting to investigate, challenge, and deconstruct gender and the structures which (re)produce and maintain it. Semi-structured interviews with fathers and with workplace managers were utilised to collect data. Both thematic analysis and discourse analysis were applied when interpreting and analysing the data. Findings of this research point to the persistence of gendered norms and expectations in relation to parenting and work, and that these continue to have an impact upon men’s decision making in the organisational context. The persistence of the ideal worker norm and male breadwinner expectations, for example, remain influential in men’s decision making in regard to work and parenting roles, the parenting practices they choose to be involved in, and how they construct fathering. However, the findings also suggest that challenges to and evolution of masculinity are occurring. Specifically, men are beginning to challenge aspects of masculinity which contribute to restrictions in their parenting choices. The implications of these challenges are explored. Finally, this research suggests the need to address structural restrictions and to put more supports in place to enable fathers to engage more fully in parenting. In particular, it is suggested that organisational and family policies need to provide more support for men to be involved in caregiving and unpaid labour.
Advisor: Crabb, Shona
Moore, Vivienne
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Public Health, 2020
Keywords: flexible working arrangements
workplace culture
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