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Work and Family Lives: The Changing Experiences of Young Families

Work and Family Lives: The Changing Experiences of Young Families


Project Description

This project explored the ways in which working parents and their primary school aged- children negotiate their work and family lives over time by drawing on the changing experiences and perceptions of a sample of fourteen families over a three year period (2007-2010).

The research investigated the impact of issues raised by working parenthood on everyday family life and practices, and explored how practices may vary over time in response to changes in work and family circumstances, including those in children's lives.

By comparing families’ experiences, the study aimed to deepen our understanding of how parents and children living under different socio-economic and labour market conditions both generated and resolved work and family issues.

Fourteen families were recruited to take part in the ‘Work and Family Lives’ study. This sample consisted of fourteen mothers, eight fathers, and sixteen children (aged between seven and eleven at the inception of the research).

Five were lone-mother households and nine were heterosexual couple families.  All parents were in paid employment (eleven full-time, ten part-time), apart from two retirees. Levels of total annual household income (before tax) ranged from £20,000 to over £60,000.

Research Design and Methodology

The study entailed three waves of data collection, carried out approximately nine months apart. At waves one and three, individual interviews were conducted with parents and children in order to build a rich and complex picture of everyday family life.

Family interviews were conducted at wave two with the aim of bringing the group dynamics into focus and allowing observation of the interplay of personalities and relationships.

Reports and Publications



Cunningham-Burley, S., Jamieson, L. and Harden, J. (2011) Work and Family Lives Dataset. University of Leeds, UK: Timescapes Archive. DOI: 10.23635/03