chapter  1
32 Pages

CONCEPTUALISING PART-TIME WORK

The value of an integrated comparative perspective
WithColette Fagan and Jacqueline O’Reilly

Part-time work is a particularly apposite issue for cross-national comparison as it highlights many of the controversies in comparative research, such as whether or not there are universal laws of convergence in social development. These debates were revived by the convergence thesis of industrialism (Kerr et al. 1960) and the subsequent rejoinders which give more salience to the diversity of industrial and political development (e.g. Goldthorpe 1985; Przeworski and Teune 1973; Maurice et al. 1982; Inkeles and Sasaki 1996). Universal trends in part-time work can be seen across countries: it is primarily performed by women; it is often associated with marginal employment; its expansion has coincided with a period of industrial restructuring and a growing presence of women in the labour market. From this vantage point, part-time work appears to be emerging as a universal modification to the existing sexual division of labour.