Work, Care and Family: Revealing and Reconstituting Legal Norms

Centre Members: A. Chapman, B. Gaze

The intersections and dynamics of work, care, family, household and the labour market are now receiving considerable attention in Australia, and overseas, as concerns of public debate, policy and scholarly investigation. A central strand of scholarship reveals the ways in which market work in many Western countries is organised around a normative, or ideal, worker. Most accounts interpret this ideal worker as developing from a (male) breadwinner / (female) housekeeper model of work and family, dominant in many Western societies for more than one hundred years. In Australia, close attention has not been paid to the role played by legal regulation in producing the normative or ideal subject of the labour market. Ms Anna Chapman is engaged in research examining the broad field of Australian labour law as constitutive of normative work, care and family forms. The work aims to reveal existing legal norms and then put forward an argument for reconstituting those norms in ways more likely to further equality and better work, care and family outcomes. This research is being undertaken by Anna Chapman as part of her doctoral studies. Associate Professor Beth Gaze is also engaged in examining the intersections of work, care, family and legal regulation. Her main areas of focus are anti-discrimination law, and the impact of the Workplace Relations Act on women workers.