To read this content please select one of the options below:

Italian Parents in Precarious Work: How Normative Beliefs Affect Social Understandings of the Work–Family Boundary

Work and Family in the New Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78441-630-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-629-4

Publication date: 17 February 2015



This chapter investigates how normative beliefs attributed to insecure paid work and care responsibilities affect social understandings of the work–family boundary, and either challenge or reinforce traditional links between gender and moral obligation.


Within an interpretive approach and from a gender perspective, I present a discourse analysis of 41 interviews with Italian parents.


This chapter shows that women in the sample felt forced into blurred boundaries that did not suit their work–family normative beliefs. Men in the sample perceived that they had more boundary control, and they created boundaries that support an innovative fatherhood model. Unlike women, men’s boundaries aligned with their desires.

Research limitations

The specific target of respondents prevents empirical comparisons between social classes. Moreover, the cross-level analysis presented is limited: in particular, further investigation is required at the level of organizational cultures.


The study suggests not only thinking in terms of work–family boundary segmentation and integration but also looking at the normative dimensions which can either enhance or exacerbate perceptions of the work–family interface. The value of the study also stems from its theoretically relevant target.




I am very grateful to Barbara Poggio, Barbara Risman, and Lea Sgier for their suggestions. I also thank Samantha K. Ammons and Erin L. Kelly for their useful comments. Finally, a special thanks to all people I interviewed for telling me their stories.


Carreri, A. (2015), "Italian Parents in Precarious Work: How Normative Beliefs Affect Social Understandings of the Work–Family Boundary", Work and Family in the New Economy (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 1-33.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited