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Restructuring Work and the Life Course

Restructuring Work and the Life Course

Victor W. Marshall
Walter R. Heinz
Helga Krüger
Anil Verma
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 512
  • Book Info
    Restructuring Work and the Life Course
    Book Description:

    In this multidisciplinary collection of essays, forty-eight social scientists from seven countries examine changes in the organization of work and their impact on people at various stages of the life course.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7929-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface. Restructuring Work and the Life Course: Challenges for Comparative Research and Policy
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1. Work and the Life Course: A Cosmopolitan–Local Perspective
    (pp. 3-22)
    Walter R. Heinz

    As globalization accelerates, the world is becoming smaller and smaller. The closer societies get, the more their differences become apparent. Therefore, trusted approaches to life-course research in cross-cultural perspectives need to be re-examined and refined.

    This volume aims to develop cross-cultural perspectives on work and the life course. The challenge we face is to translate the concepts and methods of cross-national research into a dynamic, temporally structured life-course framework. As we all know, single-country studies of educational level, gender, and occupational status that have focused on life-course trajectories have produced considerable results within their respective national-cultural boundaries.

    Comparative life-course studies,...

  6. PART ONE. Education, Labour Market, and Transitions in the Working Life Course

    • Introduction
      (pp. 23-28)
      Walter R. Heinz

      In the following section, ten contributions are presented which cover a wide range of empirically based or grounded analyses of important aspects concerning the interaction between changing occupational structures, qualification, gender, and employment throughout the life course. These chapters document that the restructuring of labour markets in North America and Europe has led to an increase of flexibility requirements for the work force at all stages for the working life course without reducing gender segregation in the labour market and without improving the quality of work. These studies come from Canada, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and the European...

    • 2. Youth, Transitions, and the New World of Work
      (pp. 29-44)
      Graham S. Lowe

      Canada and other industrial nations have undergone two decades of labour-market turbulence that has profoundly affected employment opportunities for young people. The spread of contingent work forms, high structural unemployment, declining real incomes, and the growing gap between ′good′ and ′bad′ jobs have contributed to make the school-to-work transition more difficult and complex than ever. Many youth have reacted to an increasingly competitive and volatile work world by investing in further education. While this seems consistent with the human-resource-development approach to economic prosperity advocated by government and industry (Crouch, 1997), the problem of lagging productivity often gets attributed to the...

    • 3. The Dutch Labour Market since 1971: Trends in Overeducation and Displacement
      (pp. 45-60)
      Marco de Witte and Ronald Batenburg

      In the last few years, the Dutch ′poldermodel′ has become widely known among western European countries. The model is repeatedly cited for its achievements, such as a moderate level of wage increase, extensive schemes of direct job creation, and strategic and constructive cooperation among employers, employees, and government on the one hand and strong cuts in social-security and employment services on the other. Social-benefit funds are used in an increasingly active way, to support job creation programs, or to subsidize employers who create low-wage jobs and engage the long-term unemployed. The core of the Dutch model is the attempt to...

    • 4. The Transition from Vocational Training to Employment in Germany: Does Region Matter?
      (pp. 61-83)
      Hildegard Schaeper, Thomas Kühn and Andreas Witzel

      ′Space-blindness′ is a traditional feature of sociological theory in general and of life-course research in particular (cf Herlyn, 1990, p. 7; Konau, 1977, p. 6; Urry, 1981), and, with a few exceptions, space continues to be a neglected category (cf Dangschat, 1994, p. 336).

      Marginalizing the spatial dimensions of social phenomena implies a belief that societies are homogeneous, unified entities. This assumption has frequently been criticized, however. In the German tradition of social-structure analysis during the 1960s, for example, it was quite common to distinguish between rural and urban areas (cf Bertram and Dannenbeck, 1990, p. 217). In the 1980s,...

    • 5. Restructuring Work, Restructuring Gender: The Movement of Women into Non-traditional Occupations in Canada
      (pp. 84-106)
      Karen D. Hughes

      Since the early 1970s the life course of women in industrialized countries has been reshaped as increasing numbers have begun to enter into non-traditional occupations (that is, those in which men have historically predominated). Advocates of such change have emphasized its potential to reduce gender-based economic disparities by improving women′s access to the better earnings, job security, and advancement prospects typically associated with ′men′s jobs.′ To date, evidence from several industrialized countries suggests that women have made important inroads, parlaying increased levels of education and labourforce participation into a diverse array of non-traditional jobs (see, for example, Reskin and Roos,...

    • 6. Contested Terrain: Women in German Research Organizations
      (pp. 107-122)
      Jutta Allmendinger, Stefan Fuchs, Janina von Stebut and Christine Wimbauer

      Science is assumed to be the hall of meritocratic principles, aiming at nothing but knowledge, achievement, and scientific progress. And, indeed, meritocracy seems to be working in some areas such as higher (tertiary) education. In 1998, every second person obtaining the immatriculation standard (Abitur) was female, the proportion of female first-year students was about 48 per cent, and 42 per cent of all university diplomas were granted to females. When we look at gender composition² on the academic and scientific labour market, however, the picture turns out to be quite different. In 1998, 33 per cent of all doctorates and...

    • 7. Polarization of Working Time and Gender Differences: Reconciling Family and Work by Reducing Working Time of Men and Women
      (pp. 123-141)
      Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay

      As a result of major developments affecting both employment (e.g., the polarization of hours and the destandardization of jobs) and the family (e.g., the increased number of dual-earner families, a new definition of men and women′s roles within some families, and new types of families), the work and family spheres are becoming less and less independent of one another. Today more than ever before, the loss of balance in one sphere directly affects the other. In the long run, conflicts within the job, family, and personal life have harmful effects on the individual, reducing personal well-being, increasing stress (Tissot et...

    • 8. Balancing Employment and Family Lives: Changing Life-course Experiences of Men and Women in the European Union
      (pp. 142-158)
      Susan Yeandle

      This chapter discusses the changes being experienced by men and women as the distribution and allocation of labour changes. The changes in question represent a significant restructuring of the life course, away from its former more predictable and relatively orderly shape, towards a more diverse and fragmented experience which is polarizing the experiences of some groups while rendering more similar those of others. The chapter′s focus is on changes in the social and sexual division of labour, and on the shifting boundaries between unpaid work and employment. A central concern is the extent to which formerly unpaid work, mainly done...

    • 9. Full Time or Part Time? The Contradictory Integration of the East German Female Labour Force in Unified Germany
      (pp. 159-176)
      Reinhard Kreckel and Sabine Schenk

      The unification of Germany in 1990 meant that the former German Democratic Republic, with the approval of the majority of its 16 million citizens, gave up its sovereignty and was merged into the Federal Republic of Germany. Unified Germany now has 82 million inhabitants. Through the act of unification, the East Germans became a minority of about 20 per cent of the total population of Germany. This minority was obliged to adapt to a fundamental transformation of its accustomed political, legal, and economic system, whereas things remained more or less unchanged for the West German majority. Thus, both by the...

    • 10. Unemployment and Its Consequences for Mental Health
      (pp. 177-200)
      William R. Avison

      The study of the effects of job loss and subsequent periods of unemployment on individuals′ health has a long tradition in the sociology of mental health. Given the current economic climate, it is not surprising, therefore, that social scientists have redoubled their efforts to examine the impact of unemployment on the lives of individuals. The decade of the 1990s has been a period of significant economic change in the structure of national economies in North America. One important result has been an unprecedented level of restructuring of both the private and public sectors. Terms such as ′downsizing,′ ′vertical cuts,′ and...

    • 11. Family Turning-points and Career Transitions at Midlife
      (pp. 201-228)
      Deborah Carr and Jennifer Sheridan

      The career paths of most women (and men, to a lesser degree) are inextricably linked to their family experiences. Numerous studies reveal that child-rearing responsibilities guide occupational decisions in young adulthood, yet little is known about linkages between work and family transitions at midlife. Although midlife has traditionally been characterized as a demographically ′sparse′ stage of the life course, two co-occurring trends suggest that the lives of midlife adults are now punctuated by important shifts in work and family roles (Elder and O′Rand, 1995). First, organizational restructuring has created a context where midlife workers are increasingly susceptible to displacement and...

  7. PART TWO. Later Life:: Restructuring Work and the Transition from Employment to Retirement

    • Introduction
      (pp. 229-232)
      Victor W. Marshall and Anil Verma

      Just as the entry to work is being restructured, so, too, is the exit from paid work and the transition to retirement. The chapters in this section capture this process, offer hints as to the principal causes of these changes, show the diversity of new life-course transition patterns, and investigate the consequences of these changes.

      The first chapter in the section reports a study by James Dowd of fifty-eight U.S. Army general officers. We begin with this chapter because it describes workers in an environment that fosters the kinds of occupational career stability that are threatened by the restructuring of...

    • 12. From Officers to Gentlemen: Army Generals and the Passage to Retirement
      (pp. 233-257)
      James J. Dowd

      In a number of very significant ways, military organizations of the advanced industrial societies are ideal models for conceptualizing the linkages between work and retirement. The retirement system of the American military, wherein soldiers, sailors, and airmen accrue retirement benefits equivalent to 2.5 per cent of their base pay for every year on active duty, is widely considered to be one of the signature benefits of military service and perhaps the most compelling reason for a soldier′s re-enlistment. Retirement benefits also include continued access to free health care at military installations, continued access to commissaries and other shopping and recreational...

    • 13. Gender Differences in Transitions to Total-work Retirement
      (pp. 258-269)
      Leroy O. Stone and Andrew S. Harvey

      What are the main patterns of redistributing work effort between the market and non-market sectors as people age across the main retirement years? In the course of declining participation in the paid labour market, what are the chances that particular kinds of non-market work (such as volunteer work for organizations) will be done? What combinations of demographic and socio-economic circumstances are associated with the highest probabilities of substituting work effort in particular non-market sectors for declining participation in market sectors? What public policy issues or implications can be linked to the answers that we develop for the questions just cited?...

    • 14. Linking Technology, Work, and the Life Course: Findings from the NOVA Case Study
      (pp. 270-287)
      Donna C. Chan, Joanne G. Marshall and Victor W. Marshall

      New technologies that incorporate computing and telecommunications are revolutionizing the way Canadians work. Information technologies can be applied in production and in information storage, retrieval, and dissemination and are key components of organizational change. The life-course perspective provides a framework within which to examine life experiences as a function of historical period and individual experience. To date, there have been few studies of the impact of technological change acting through work to restructure the life course. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to explore the use of the life-course perspective to study the impact of technological change on life...

    • 15. Is There Life after Career Employment? Labour-market Experience of Early ′Retirees′
      (pp. 288-302)
      Gangaram Singh and Anil Verma

      Any study of the life course, it can be argued, must account for the labour-market experience of older workers. Past research has assumed that older workers who leave the labour force do so in a complete way and on a permanent basis (Marshall, 1995). Recent research, on the other hand, has shown that many older workers return to the labour market after early retirement from their career jobs (Monette, 1996; Herz, 1995). The period of employment between career employment and full retirement is often referred to as ′bridge employment′ (Rhum, 1990; Doeringer, 1990). Bridge employment, according to the OECD (1995),...

    • 16. Downsizing and the Life-course Consequences of Job Loss: The Effect of Age and Gender on Employment and Income Security
      (pp. 303-318)
      Jill Quadagno, David MacPherson, Jennifer Reid Keene and Lori Parham

      On 13 April 1998, the front page of newspapers across the United States announced two huge banking mergers, accelerating a wave of consolidation likely to leave the financial-services industry with a few giant powerhouses (Holson, 1998). In the bigger of the two deals, Nationsbank Corporation merged with the BankAmerica Corporation, creating the first coast-to-coast bank and making the new company the largest in terms of total branches and deposits. A second merger, between Bane One Corporation and First Chicago NBD Corporation, would create the fifth-largest banking company, which would dominate financial services in the Midwest.

      Although much of the media...

    • 17. Generational and Life-course Patterns of Occupational Retrenchment and Retirement of South African Migrant Labourers
      (pp. 319-331)
      Robin L. Oakley

      It is widely argued (Bengtson, 1989; Elder, 1997; Marshall, 1983) that a desirable feature of the life-course approach to theorizing is its reminder that the broad socio-economic environment is important to consider in relation to individual experiences. In practice, however, social and economic structures operating through time are rarely brought into life-course analyses. In this chapter I demonstrate the significance of a political-economic approach to life-course analysis through an examination of the impacts of participation in wage labour in a rural South African community. Specifically, the chapter compares the ways that oscillating wage labour has differentially shaped the life courses...

    • 18. Changing Working Patterns and the Public-Private Mix in Old-age Security: The Example of Germany
      (pp. 332-347)
      Winfried Schmähl

      Germany′s social security system in general as well as its provisions related to old age are based to a high degree on income from work, mainly from employment (see Schmähl 1999). This type of social security arrangement is affected and challenged by many structural changes in economy, demography, and society that have consequences also for working life. Proposals have been and are still being debated for redesigning the scope and structure of social security to enable it to cope with existing or potential financing problems arising from the challenges noted above. After the collapse of former socialist economies and their...

    • 19. Japan′s Current Policy Focus on Longer Employment for Older People
      (pp. 348-359)
      Takeshi Kimura and Masato Oka

      The unprecedented rapid aging of Japanese society has posed two serious problems: a projected shortage of labour and a projected solvency crisis of the public pension fund. To cope with these, the Japanese government has decided to raise the public pension age from 60 to 65 from the start of the twenty-first century. In addition, it is pursuing a policy to secure employment for people aged 60 to 64. This chapter gives an account of how the government is pursuing this employment policy and discusses the initiative from several angles.

      In Japan, two institutional factors affect retirement, a mandatory retirement...

    • 20. The Career Break as an Alternative to Early-exit Schemes
      (pp. 360-374)
      Peter Simoens and Jan Denys

      During the last twenty years, labour-market participation among the elderly has diminished drastically in all countries of the European Union (EU). More and more workers leave the labour market for good before reaching pensionable age. This trend, stronger in Belgium than in any other EU country, has been influenced by three factors: disability pensions, unemployment, and early-exit routes, of which the socalled bridging pension has been the most important. Only 30 per cent of the male population 50 years and over is still actively employed (against an EU average of 39 per cent). These figures are even lower for older...

    • 21. Restructuring Work in an Aging America: What Role for Public Policy?
      (pp. 375-396)
      Sara E. Rix

      In the United States, as in most of the rest of the developed world, work and work lives underwent a dramatic restructuring over the course of the twentieth century. Men were living longer but working less. Women marched to a different drummer as growing numbers, whose life expectancy was also on the rise, entered the labour force in the postwar years and remained there longer. For both women and men, however, work beyond what might be referred to as ′conventional retirement age′ – 65 when Social Security was established in 1935 and closer to 62 as the age of eligibility...

  8. PART THREE. Biography and Social Structure:: Stability and Change

    • Introduction
      (pp. 397-400)
      Helga Krüger

      Systematic research on the intersection of social structure and agency, though still in its infancy, is gaining ground. The contributions in part three of this book address the most challenging aspects of life-course research, attempting to bridge the gap between personal orientations and structural contexts of biographies in a changing world. It is perhaps not by chance that these chapters predominantly focus on established or changing arrangements between labour markets, family, and gender. The majority of the authors deal with intersecting lives and consider how the life courses and status passages of significant others influence and shadow the timing of...

    • 22. Social Change in Two Generations: Employment Patterns and Their Costs for Family Life
      (pp. 401-423)
      Helga Krüger

      In contrast to the United States today, where only 9.4 per cent of workers live in so-called traditional families, with a male breadwinner and a fulltime female homemaker (Han and Moen, 2001, forthcoming), Germany is well known for its exceptionally low participation rates of married women in the labour force. Elsewhere in Europe, the employment rates of married women have risen notably within the last three decades, and the corresponding rates for men have declined (see Yeandle, in this volume). But for both sexes, Germany happily brings up the rear.

      This fact is frequently assumed to indicate Germans′ dedication to...

    • 23. Reframing Careers: Work, Family, and Gender
      (pp. 424-445)
      Phyllis Moen and Shin-Kap Han

      The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed dramatically changing experiences and options associated with occupational career progression. As biographies intersected with the historical events of the times (Mills, 1959), the lock-step life-course was, and is, being literally transformed. We discuss the value of a life-course perspective, leading both to (1) a dynamic approach to occupational experiences and attainment, and (2) a recasting of conventional views of occupational careers.

      Mayer and Mueller (1986, p. 167) described institutional careers as the orderly flow of persons through segmented institutions. Such a framework, based on the notion of (occupational) status sequence (Merton, 1986),...

    • 24. Children of the Gender Revolution: Some Theoretical Questions and Findings from the Field
      (pp. 446-461)
      Kathleen Gerson

      As a new century commences, it is clear that fundamental changes in family, work, and gender arrangements have transformed the experience of growing up in American society. Only several decades ago, an American child was likely to grow to adulthood in a two-parent home with a mother who worked outside the home either intermittently or not at all. No such common situation unites children today. With fewer than 14 per cent of American households containing a married couple with a breadwinning husband and homemaking wife, children living in a ′traditional family′ now form a distinct minority (Ahlburg and De Vita,...

    • 25. Engineers and the Western Canadian Oil Industry: Work and Life Changes in a Boom-and-bust Decade
      (pp. 462-472)
      Gillian Ranson

      At the level of local labour markets and work organizations, economic restructuring in effect restructures employment opportunities and the career trajectories of workers. This study explores some of the effects of restructuring during the 1980s in a particular industry – the western Canadian oil and gas industry, centred in the province of Alberta and largely managed from the city of Calgary – on a particular professional group, namely engineers.

      In the sense that it examines a particular and (relatively) bounded system (Stake, 1994), this is a ′case study′ of the social and economic relations of engineering work in a particular...

    • 26. Baby Boomers in Transition: Life-course Experiences of the ′Class ′73′
      (pp. 473-488)
      Paul Anisef and Paul Axelrod

      This chapter is based on a panel study that closely charts the lifecourse pathways of an Ontario cohort of Grade 12 students in 1973 (′the Class of ′73′) to the leading edge of middle age in 1995. It employs a life-course theoretical perspective to assess the relative importance of structure and agency in the multiple school-to-work and life transitions made by one baby-boom cohort. Like other life-course researchers represented in this volume, we note that there have been tremendous social and economic changes over the past several generations (Heinz, 1999; Chisholm and Du Bois-Raymond, 1993; Evans and Heinz, 1994; Kriiger,...

    • 27. Becoming a Mother or a Worker: Structure and Agency in Young Adult Women′s Accounts of Education, Training, Employment, and Partnership
      (pp. 489-504)
      Ian Procter

      This chapter is concerned with women′s transition to young adulthood. Its focus is a comparison between two groups of women interviewed¹ between 1992 and 1996 when in their early to mid-twenties.² The women had many things in common, but the key difference between them was that in one group the women were single, childless, and employed full time while in the other the women were partnered mothers with, at most, part-time employment. The paper seeks to explain how the women came to be in these contrasting social locations. The argument will be that at the point of exiting initial education...

    • 28. Returning to Work after Childbirth: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Role of Qualifications in Mothers′ Return to Paid Employment
      (pp. 505-524)
      Jane Elliott, Angela Dale and Muriel Egerton

      Qualifications provide a way of formalizing the type and level of education received. They may provide employers with ′signals′ as to the ability of a job seeker, or they may provide specific training for a particular occupation and thereby play an important role in gaining entry to the labour market. Various studies have demonstrated the value of qualifications to young people when seeking work in difficult labour markets (Bynner and Roberts, 1991; Payne, 1991), while Layder, Ashton, and Sung (1991) have attempted to operationalize the role of both structure and agency in entry to specific labour-market segments. Certain types of...

    • 29. Reconstructing Life Courses: A Historical Perspective on Migrant Experiences
      (pp. 525-539)
      Dirk Hoerder

      Traditional life-course models conceptualize a linear development from birth to death through education, work, and retirement, or prework, work, and post-work stages (Kohli, 1985; Kohli et al., 1991). While it was the achievement of Kohli (1986) to reintroduce the concept of the life course into social sciences dominated by structuralist and institutional approaches, his concept of work refers to waged or salaried employment without reference to unpaid work in reproduction. A so-called normal biography emerges which, however, excludes large segments of any population from consideration. First, life-course models based on remunerative productive or administrative work are male oriented and thus...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 540-544)