Breadwinning Mothers: The Lived Realities Between Work and Home
thesisposted on 15.07.2019, 11:10 by Eimer B. Sparham
The rapid increase in women’s paid employment has been well-documented. However, within these figures exists a sub-group of maternal breadwinners, with statistics indicating that one in three of all working mothers are breadwinners, and that these numbers are also expected to rise in the future. Nonetheless, although there are increasing numbers of breadwinning mothers, very little is known about them as a group. This thesis sets out to address this gap by examining the lived realities of these women in order to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a maternal breadwinner in modernday Britain. The thesis also argues that there has been a lack of literature that defines the key concepts of breadwinning as there is no universal conceptualisation of the term. In addition, the thesis points out that there has been limited research about breadwinning, as previous studies have tended to be based on quantitative data. This thesis aims to address this gap by adopting a small-scale qualitative study in order to collect meaningful real-life data that exposes what it really means to be a breadwinning mother. A total of twenty breadwinning mothers (BWMs) were interviewed as part of the research. The thesis argues that although there is common ground and acknowledged difficulties for all working mothers, many of the problems that these BWMs experienced were actually intensified due to their breadwinning responsibilities and complexities. What is more, the thesis highlights how there is a clear lack of choice for these women in how they managed work and home due to the financial importance placed on their breadwinning. In addition, the thesis will argue how these BWMs were conforming to traditional arrangements of work and family even though they occupied the family breadwinner role. As a consequence, the thesis reveals that despite their breadwinning status and the apparent power that it might be perceived to bring, it has not been sufficient for these women to overcome traditional gendering of work and family.