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The EU-project (from October 2006 to October 2009) has the topic: “Social quality and the changing relationships between work, care and welfare in Europe” and has been financed by the European Commission within the 6th Framework Programme (“Specific Targeted Research for Innovation Project“). Claire Wallace (University of Aberdeen, Scotland) is leading the whole project. The country partners participating are: Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

For more information see the project's website.


Barbara Haas, University Assistant at the Institute for Sociology and Social Research at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, is leading the Austrian team to which Margit Hartel and Nadia Steiber belong as permanent researchers.

The Austrian team deals with two different topics within the whole project:
a) Quantitative analysis “Orientations to work and care. Secondary data analysis to map the individual orientations to work and care across the EU 25 countries. Workpackage 4” (Barbara Haas: leader)
b) Qualitative Interviews with mothers and fathers (separately) who have children in the age of 5 to 11 years: “Qualitative interviews with households. Workpackage 5“ (Rossana Trifiletti: leader).

Ad a)
Drawing upon various cross national surveys (ISSP, ESS, WVS/EVS, QOL) this WP would document different orientations to work and care across Europe with the aim of understanding if the these values, norms and preferences corresponded to {mospagebreak}

contemporary social theories (mostly based upon North Western European experience) or if new patterns and clusters of countries should be developed.  Furthermore, this WP would explore variations according to social group, family and work situations. The idea is to look at values and cultural orientations on the one hand and household practices on the other, not assuming that these two things necessarily align.

The expected results are:
Explanation of values and cultures of work and care
Understanding of how these values and cultures relate to household practices
Mapping of patterns of work and care across Europe
Understanding of how patterns of work and care relate to the quality of life
Understanding of how capabilities shape work and care

Country partners are: Portugal (Prof. A. Torres) and Poland (Prof. R. Siemienska)

Ad b)
This workpackage will look at the general patterns of work and care on the micro level through qualitative interviews. In this workpackage the capabilities approach will be developed in order to understand the actions and strategies of households in managing work and care. The workpackage will look at how people construct the tensions between work and care and what kinds of solutions they arrive at.

The following countries will be targeted for qualitative interviews because they represent a cross section of countries including Northern, Southern, New Member States, Continental European and Anglo-Saxon: Italy, the UK, Austria, Denmark and Hungary.

18 interviews in each country would be carried out and partially translated based upon an agreed coding frame (partly planned before hand and partly emergent from the interview process). The households would be selected to cover couples and non couple families, different educational levels (as a proxy for social class) and different ages of children. The sampling frame for  each country would take into account different household types. 18 interviews in each country = 90 interviews altogether. 
The data collection in Italy will be undertaken by Rossana Triffiletti, in Austria by Barbara Haas and in the UK by Pamela Abbott and Claire Wallace, in Denmark by Thomas Boje and in Hungary by Endre Sik.  Interviews will be partially transcribed using previously agreed and emergent codes from the initial coding of interviews. The final comparative report will be written by Rossana Triffiletti, but the partially translated transcripts would be available on the intranet as a combined project resource. Each partner has a budget for travel and for transcription of interviews.

The proposed research project explores the relationships between, structural changes labour market, demography, welfare and economic policies at the macro level and at the micro level changes in individual orientations to work and care. At the macro level we are concerned to measure the quality of society and at the micro level the quality of life by analysing them in terms of Social Quality in Europe. We would propose to go beyond the existing literature on individual attitudes and welfare regimes to integrate perspectives of gender and care into an analysis that encompasses Europe as a whole, including New Member States.

In order to do so we would develop an analytical framework that takes into account the orientation, actions, capabilities and satisfaction of actors within the work and care systems in constructing a work-life balance. The project would look at the different actors involved in balancing work and care: the household, individuals and the state. The work would be based on the analysis of relevant indicators from existing sources but would be supplemented by qualitative interviews from five countries: Austria, Italy, the UK, Hungary and Denmark.

The project would introduce methodological as well as theoretical innovations in the combination of policy analysis, qualitative and quantitative research to understand models of change and hence the development of different European Social Models. Finally, it would contribute to European policy debates by providing a better understanding of the impact of social policies on work and care, the effects of the competing demands of work and care on fertility decisions and the consequences of flexibility and working times on the organisation of work, care and welfare.

Contact Barbara Haas
Institute for Sociology and Social Research
Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration
Augasse 2-6
1090 Vienna

Barbara Haas studied sociology and teaches empirical social science, especially quantitative methodology at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. Her research topics are: labour market studies (flexibilsation), international wefare state comparisons, employment patterns over the life-course, gender relations.

Current publications
with Nadia Steiber, Margit Hartel and Claire Wallace, Household employment patterns in an enlarged European Union, in: Work, Employment & Society (forthcoming).

Work-care balances - Is it possible to identify typologies for cross-national comparison?, in: Current Sociology, 53, 3 (2005), 487-508.