Migration and uneven development within an enlarged European Union: fathering, gender divisions and male migrant domestic services
Drawing mainly on qualitative evidence gathered from interviews with migrant handymen and with labour-using households in the UK, this paper analyses how this migration typifies economic and social divisions within Europe and embodies conflicting tensions between economic and social policies at an interpersonal level. By supplying household services, migrant handymen enable labour-using households to alleviate time pressures and conflicts in time priorities arising from tensions between economic expectations regarding working hours and work commitment, and social expectations regarding contemporary ideas of active parenting. Similarly to the outsourcing of feminized domestic labour and care, these tensions are in part resolved for labour-using households by extending class divisions across national boundaries while leaving gender divisions changed but not transformed and in some instances exacerbating work/ life tensions among the migrants. These broad findings are complicated by differential desires and capabilities around fathering practices among fathers in labour-using households and among the migrants, and economic differentiation among the migrant population. Although we cannot tell from our study whether such movement reinforces or redresses uneven development, what we can say is that existing cohesion policies are insufficient to redress uneven development, and individual responses including migration can reinforce existing social divisions. Further, existing social policies for promoting gender equality fail to recognize or redress the deeply embedded gendered norms.