Monday, 3 August 2015

‘Bad Mum Guilt’: the representation of ‘work-life balance’ in UK women’s magazines

an article by Cath Sullivan (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK) published in Community, Work & Family Volume 18 Issue 3 (2015)


The social policy climate, labour market trends and gendered arrangements for paid and family work mean that ‘work-life balance’ remains a key social issue in the UK. Media representations of ‘work-life balance’ are a key source for the construction of gender and working motherhood.

Despite evidence of gendered representations in media coverage of other social issues, little attention has been paid to the construction of work-life balance in UK women’s magazines. Articles from the highest circulating UK women’s magazines are analysed using a discursive approach to explicate constructions of work-life balance and working motherhood.

The analysis reveals that multiple roles are constructed as a problematic choice leading to stress and guilt. Problems associated with multiple roles are constructed as individual problems, in a way that decontextualises and depoliticises them and normalises gendered assumptions and a gendered division of labour.

Parallels can be drawn between this and wider discourses about women’s daily lives and to the UK social policy context.

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