COORDINATING EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE NETHERLANDS: A HOLISTIC QUANTITATIVE APPROACH TO THE ANALYSIS OF ICT-RELATED AND OTHER WORK-LIFE BALANCE STRATEGIES

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ABSTRACT.

Due to women's increased participation in the labour force, more and more family-households are now juggling paid labour and care-giving in space and time and do so in many different ways. Much research and policy about how households try to establish a satisfactory work-life balance singles out particular coping strategies, such as telecommuting or the mobilizing of informal help by relatives or friends. While insightful, foregrounding single strategies may oversimplify the complex reality of everyday life, in which people often skilfully weave together multiple coping strategies. As well, advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) have further diversified the arsenal of possible coping strategies, but the academic literature has yet to verify whether ICT usage complements or substitutes the adoption of other coping strategies. Adopting a holistic quantitative approach this study assesses which combinations of coping strategies prevail and which role ICTs play in this regard among one- and dual-earner households in the Utrecht–Amersfoort–Hilversum area of the Netherlands. We also examine systematic variations in strategy combination by socio-demographics, ICT possession, affordability and skills, social network factors, employment and commute factors, spatial factors, lifestyle orientation and other factors. We identify several distinct combinations of strategies and find that ICT-related strategies are frequently adopted by highly educated employed parents in the Netherlands attempting to achieve a satisfying work-life balance and tend to complement other types of strategies. Which combinations of strategies have been adopted depends most strongly on the presence of young children, but also on employment factors and characteristics of the environment surrounding the dwelling and main workplace.

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