Forældreskab på arbejde – mellem nærvær og fravær: Implikationer for beskæftigede småbørnsforældres work-life balance

Jeanette Bursche

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis discusses the implications for the work-life balance (WLB) of dual career families. Through discourse analysis the thesis finds the terms absence and presence to be key words in a cross link between being a good parent and a good employee. Thus, the aim of this thesis is to study the presence-absence discourse, articulated by working parents, and the possible consequences of these articulations for their WLB at family friendly work places. The presence-absence discourse is studied through a theoretical framework consisting of one discourse analytical approach; the discourse theory of Ernest Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. This theory is used to study the presence-absence discourse, articulated by the two subject positions; parent and employee in either mutuality or conflict. Using Laclau and Mouffe’s theoretical terms antagonism and hegemony the possible consequences of these articulations can be examined. Methodologically, the empirical basis of the study is two methods: Qualitative, individual interviews with two HR managers and four employees, and a focus group interview with three employees. The WLB arrangements of two family friendly companies are discussed in relation to reduced options of practice within a presence-absence discourse, and the thesis concludes that especially kid’s rooms at work have negative implications for WLB. Attaining WLB is articulated as the ability to fixate presence in each subject position, adjusted to the specific context involving the term hegemony strategy. Thus, the thesis finds the activated, fixed presence to be positively related to WLB. However, this hegemony strategy fails in relation to kid’s rooms, because fixated presence is not attainable when parents bring kids to work. Instead the situation is articulated as an antagonism between parent and employee, and therefore preventing WLB. This is also the case concerning absence due to sickness, when this absence is not perceived as legitimate, forcing the working parent to log on and be virtually present at work. Part time work has positive implications for WLB, enabling the parent to be present both at home and at work, as does the child’s daycare placement, since these practices are not articulated as antagonisms involving impossible presence. However, the thesis still finds that these practices can have negative implications, for instance the guilty conscience from being apart from work or child, leaving the subject positions in work-life conflict still.

EducationsMSocSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages80