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Globalization, Uncertainty and Women’s Careers

An International Comparison

Edited by Hans-Peter Blossfeld and Heather Hofmeister

Globalization, Uncertainty and Women’s Careers assesses the effects of globalization on the life courses of women in thirteen countries across Europe and America in the second half of the 20th century.
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Chapter 16: The Impact of Gender Role Attitudes on Women’s Life Courses

Detlev Lück


Detlev Lück INTRODUCTION In the first chapter of this volume, Hofmeister, Blossfeld and Mills introduced a general theoretical framework for analyzing globalization effects on women’s life courses. The present chapter suggests additional explanations that would have been difficult to include in the previous chapters in a systematic way since quantitative research needs to simplify the highly complex social reality. In this chapter, I explain the impact of subjectivity and of culture on women’s mid-career labor market involvement. The emphasis is on attitudes and values, 1 social values and norms, and how these affect women’s career choices between working in the labor market (for pay) and working in the household (as unpaid caregivers). I demonstrate that cross-national differences and social change do not only reflect institutional but also cultural differences and change. It might be satisfying to give explanations that refer only to institutions (or to culture). However, including both views can resolve some contradictions that do not follow a strictly ‘rational choice’ model in women’s career trajectories. After a short theoretical discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of adding cultural explanations to the theoretical framework, I present empirical results. THE IMPACT OF SUBJECTIVITY: EXTENDING THE MODEL Subjectivity forms social reality in different ways. The following description distinguishes micro-level from macro-level effects, as well as effects of structured and of unstructured aspects of subjectivity. 405 406 Conclusions What is ‘subjectivity’? The realist theory of cognition, that ‘people around us perceive the world the same way as we do, and that...

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