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Working Paper 12 Outline

Who’s looking after the kids? Contemporary insights to the care of children in

Caroline McAuley

This paper will provide an overview of what can be viewed as the key equality issues facing parents in respect of care of their children in the contemporary context of Northern Ireland. Under the auspices of New Labour’s prioritisation of paid work as the defining ‘duty’ of contemporary citizenship, both mothers and fathers are expected to participate in paid employment. But how do parents meet the increasing demands of managing labour market participation coupled with their parental responsibilities?  Moreover, to what extent are inequalities exacerbated for single parent families? And how do policy ‘prescriptions’ reflect and/or conflict with parent’s ideas and views about work obligations and caring responsibilities?

This paper will consider these issues (and more) via secondary data analysis of relevant quantitative data and also incorporate insights from a small number of interviews undertaken with single and coupled parents in Northern Ireland. In so doing, it will illustrate the complex interfaces around Baker et al’s (2004) five dimensions of inequality, particularly in regard to ‘equality of resources’ and of equality in the ‘affective’ domain.

 


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