Men, work part-time! The researcher’s alternative for the future labour market

Feb 25, 2016 | Research/Cooperation

Men, work part-time! The researcher’s alternative for the future labour market
MDH-researcher Eva Lindell has been studying the picture the mass media conjure up of the labour market of the future. It is a picture characterised by gender stereotyped occupational roles, a constant bustle for increased productivity and a telling silence about what the consequences are of a gender-divided labour market. Her alternative is to reverse the perspective: “Men, work part-time”.

In her research Eva Lindell has examined how the Swedish mass media – the daily press, trade publications, press releases and so on – construct the future labour market as a phenomenon. Among other things the results show the picture of a society in which development goes increasingly faster, with greater demands on increased tempo, flexibility and productivity. The message in the mass media is that we must work more, faster and be increasingly more accessible.

Eva Lindell shows how the mass media could instead describe a development of society where we can slow down the pace, work less, and spend more time with our families and children.

- Why is nobody discussing this? If we have a notion that we must work more instead of taking it a bit easier we’re going to adapt to that. We need to change our truths, she says.

Eva Lindell has a concrete suggestion for what the future labour market should look like:

- Children and young people are rightly described as a central group on the future labour market. If we play with the stereotypes and use the mass media picture of the male engineer, but imagine that instead of working more, he is encouraged to reduce his working hours to transfer his professional knowledge together with the neighbouring children, there would be a good hope for technical skills on the future labour market.

She refers to figures and statements used in the mass media about the future labour market: that the number of job opportunities on the Swedish labour market will be halved within 20 years, that 400 000 people constitute the total number of jobseekers in Sweden today, and that if childcare was increased the female workforce would be able to increase by a corresponding 440 000 FTEs (full-time equivalents).

- One alternative future scenario could thereby be that people need to work only half as much as today, or half as quickly. So imagine that the mass media wrote instead that men to the same extent as women needed to work part-time? If men worked part-time to the same extent as women do today, a large number of FTEs would reasonably be released from the labour market.


Telling silence about a gender-divided labour market

The mass media recreate segregation between the sexes by that fact that professional groups are indirectly categorised in terms of gender where the engineer as a norm is categorised as a man, while the assistant nurse, in public employment, as a norm is categorised as a woman.

- At the same time as the picture reflects reality it is important that there are alternatives and that those who are young today are given more possible social identities that are not based on what the labour market has looked like historically, says Eva Lindell.


Research on a sustainable society

The Future Labour Market project lies within the scope of the Social Contract. Mälardalen University, the City of Eskilstuna, Västerås City, the Sörmland County Council and the Västmanland County Council are working together to strengthen the region. The report, ”The Future Labour Market in the Mass Media”, is the sub-report number two of a series.


Read the whole report

Read more about the Social Contract


For more information please contact
Eva Lindell , doctoral student, 021-10 14 65
Jessika Hedén , Communications Officer, 021-10 15 86