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Webs of obligation: Grandparenting, employment, and the intergenerational organisation of work and care in the UK

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2018
EventBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2018 - Northumbria University , Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Apr 201812 Apr 2018


ConferenceBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2018
CountryUnited Kingdom


In recent years, ‘older workers’ (aged 50+) have faced growing pressures in terms of both their paid work and unpaid caring roles. Successive UK governments have introduced a range of policy measures designed to extend working life beyond the age of 65, such as raising the state pension age and abolishing mandatory retirement age. At the same time, large-scale survey data suggest that, in the UK, between a quarter and a third of families with dependent children rely on grandparents to provide childcare whilst parents are at work (Huskinson et al, 2016). In the context of increasing demands upon grandparents to work longer whilst also providing childcare support, it is important to examine whether and how grandparents’ choices about their own working lives relate to the working patterns and associated childcare needs of their adult children.
This paper, based on empirical research undertaken in the UK, aims to contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between grandparents’ paid employment and the informal childcare that they provide for their grandchildren. We present qualitative data from in-depth interviews with 60 grandparents who regularly provide childcare. Our analysis points to the intergenerational organisation of work and care within families and highlights how decisions made by grandparents and their adult children regarding work and childcare are shaped by the socio-economic, geographical and cultural contexts within which different family members are located. The gendered dimensions of grandparental care are also explored through comparison of grandfathers’ and grandmothers’ accounts of work and care.


British Sociological Association Annual Conference 2018


Newcastle, United Kingdom

Event: Conference

ID: 57167618