Workshop 5

‘…and who is looking after the housemaids’ kids?’ Work and lifestyles mirrored by the economy of the private household

In discussions about the employment crisis the outsourcing of household work is often cited as a possible solution: instead of housework, nursing and care done privately, the call is for more wage-based labour in the intimate, household-related field. The appeal of such demands lies in the fact that the perspective of having additional employment is linked with many women’s wish to get some relief from the demands of playing two roles simultaneously. But whereas gainful employment and the wish to be employed have markedly increased, especially amongst married women and mothers, the institutional foundations of privately done housework have only slightly changed. And exactly this combination, the change in lifestyles and the staying power of familial institutions (child care, private care, matrimonial splitting etc.), has triggered the need for services in the form of wage labour.

The crucial question here is: Which shape is this outsourcing supposed to take in order to fulfil the expectations for a positive reinforcement of changing needs and economic development? Some count on market-based services which require the existence of a strong polarisation in incomes: Households with sufficient financial resources will demand such services only if the male or female service providers offer their work at a relatively low price. This is an exclusive path: While one part of the population can demand these services, the service providers themselves remain excluded. In contrast, others count on the extension of publicly financed and organized household-related services, as can be seen in the expansion of the Third Sector. This path requires tax-financed services – accompanied by an adjustment of working hours as regards to gender – and definitely no polarisation of incomes.

The last soeb workshop of this series puts the changes in lifestyles centre stage and asks about their social and economic implications. To what extent can a differentiation in the economic and social circumstances of households be observed already and what significance does this have for the participation of household members in the ongoing social and economic development? Which impact does the material undersupply have on the development perspectives of children and adults und which significance has the demographic change for these households? What economic repercussions are to be expected?

With all those socioeconomic changes underway, observations based on average figures increasingly lose their significance. The ‘average household’, the savings rate’, the ‘average consumption’ lose their informative value when compared to peoples’ real lifestyles and economic conduct. How differentiated and complex do observation concepts have to be nowadays? Which requirements, starting points and ideas are provided by the existing research and reporting approaches concerned with these topics? These questions too will be discussed.

(Tatjana Fuchs) May 16th/17th, 2006, Göttingen

Results (German)
Flyer PDF
Diskussionspapier PDF
Pressemitteilung PDF
Ergebnisbericht PDF
Lectures (German)
Tatjana Fuchs: Lebensweisen im Umbruch PDF
Claudia Gather: Bezahlte und unbezahlte Hausarbeit PDF
Karen Jaehrling: Soziale und haushaltsnahe Dienstleistungen PDF
Axel Schaffer, Carsten Stahmer: Aktivitätsmuster PDF
Wencke Gwozdz: Private Haushaltsarbeit PDF
Marc Ingo Wolter: Konsumchancen PDF
Christian Alt: Kinder geben Auskunft PDF
Andreas Motel-Klingebiel: Dienstleistungsbedarf in alternder Gesellschaft PDF