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The politics of advantage: Managing 'work' and 'care' in Australia and Sweden

Eveline, Joan (1994) The politics of advantage: Managing 'work' and 'care' in Australia and Sweden. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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In this thesis I argue for a strategic reversal of the trope of 'women's disadvantage', commonplace in policy and often used to inform feminist theory, in favour of an emphasis on 'men's advantage'. The former serves to normalize men's advantage by dropping from sight, and rhetoric, the relation between the two. The thesis goes on to explore how this works in practice through a comparative study of equal opportunity and parental leave policies in Australia and Sweden, which sit strategically at the cusp of public working life and private domestic life. At its simplest level, then, the thesis is concerned with how demands for sexual equality are conceptualized and rhetorically produced.

The concept and practice of reversal is carried through in the contrast made between the constitutive and regulative relations controlling the situations of women in management, with senior male managers experiences as fathers. The boundaries, ideological and political as well as between domestic and political, are in many senses differently drawn in Australia and Sweden, allowing for some distinct and subtle comparisons of gender divisions. The contrast shows how male advantage and masculinity, are under siege to a greater degree in Sweden than in Australia but are nonetheless substantively unchallenged by the apparent reversal of normative roles.

Finally, I move back, from the ethnographic data and its analysis, to further discussion of theoretical and methodological issues. The positioning of reversals is examined in certain feminist discourses and debates, and I argue for the use of strategic reversals even where it is apparent that actual reversals are impossible.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Thiele, Beverly
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