Mothers, daughters and learning to labour: Framing work through gender and generation

Authors: Nancy Worth*, University of Waterloo
Topics: Economic Geography, Women, Gender
Keywords: gender; generation; work; social reproduction
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon A3, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper presents a qualitative case study of millennial women in Canada, focusing on how they build meaning and understand ‘success’ in their working lives through a gendered and generational lens. I draw on daughter-mother interview dyads to consider the usefulness of an intergenerational labour geography, situating mothers as an important source of work values and expectations for their millennial daughters. Following Benson (1990), I argue that different generations of women have their own sense of ‘normative competence’ or an awareness of expected skills and behaviours around work and family life. Invoking a relational perspective, different definitions and expectations for success in one’s working life are grounded not just in the workplace, but also the home, as mothers and daughters endeavour to understand each other. Here, issues of recognition become paramount, as daughters’ beliefs, choices and experiences may be more or less recognizable to their mothers. This research is framed within an understanding of agency as relational and a concern around bringing issues of family and social reproduction within our examinations of paid work. My aim is to reveal more of the complexity of worker identities of millennial women, moving beyond the ‘factory gates’ of the workplace, to think about how young women build meaning and understand ‘success’ at this stage in their working lives, as well as how work can forge or disrupt relationships between mothers and daughters.

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