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  • Author or Editor: Janet Smithson x
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This chapter discusses the UK private sector finance organisation which claims to have moved beyond the work-life policy implementation to address organisational culture change. A drive for culture change stems from the need to develop a single organisational culture and identity following mergers and acquisitions. The workplace policies and practices documented in this chapter are interpreted through a conceptual framework based on organisational learning theory and the concept of a dual agenda for change in which workplace policies aim to meet the complementary rather than conflicting needs of the organisation and its employees. This chapter questions how far a cultural change in this workplace signifies a form of transformational learning. The chapter ends by concluding that change is a complex and a dynamic process, with some transformational change taking place alongside some management resistance.

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This chapter gives an overview of policy and practice for public participation and engagement in England and Wales, and explores the rationale for adopting a participative approach to research. It describes the process used for involving older people in the Grey and Pleasant Land project and some of the challenges that this raised. We review the literature for using the internet to promote public participation in and engagement with research and describe how we used synchronous and asynchronous online methods in this project. This is followed by a discussion of their relative merits and how online approaches compare with face-to-face involvement. The chapter concludes with a series of reflections and recommendations for the involvement of older people as key stakeholders in rural research.

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The chapter takes biographical case approach and compares selected cases of mothers from Bulgaria, Norway, Portugal and the UK. In order to give ‘thick descriptions’ of cases several layers of empirical context are brought to bear on the analysis of individual cases. Special attention is paid to the transition to motherhood in relation to other life course transitions such as school leaving, gainful employment, moving out of parental household. The life lines are analysed and set in context of national age based transitions patterns and other structural characteristics. The interpretations and reflections provided by the interviewees about the course of their lives are analysed and compared. The analysis demonstrates that social class, level of education and income are among the important aspects affecting this transition but that other dimensions such as family support can make the impact of material circumstances different across contexts and countries.

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The chapter adopts a thematic approach. It considers the range of resources available for working parents in the seven national contexts each with different levels of public and private support, working hours and childcare. It provides a systematic overview of the types and sources of support for working parents. It demonstrates how different working hours regimes, forms of formal and informal childcare, and systems of leave create complex webs of support. Organisational context is shown to be crucial, not only the existence of formal policies, but also relational support and workplace culture and practices on parents’ understandings and take-up of the support, and the constraints in countries with discretionary policies. Childcare is variously considered a private, a family or a public concern, in the different national contexts. It shows how these national assumptions and practices affect working hours, feelings of entitlement to support and gendered experiences of constraints or support.

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This research set out to investigate displaced women’s resilience and growth relationally, including relationships between displaced women and their children and how growth might extend to those working with displaced women. A unique relational, narrative and ethnographic approach demonstrated how processes of ‘reciprocal growth’ were constructed. Moving beyond previous concepts such as vicarious post-traumatic growth and ‘reciprocal resilience’, the unique finding of the research was women’s and volunteers’ co-construction of resilience and growth interpersonally and intersubjectively. ‘Othering’ narratives were dismantled through shared story and reciprocal human relationships, which allowed for a growthful connection between intra-psychic meaning making and wider community: linking what’s ‘within’ (I) to what’s ‘between’ (we). Consciously paying attention to reciprocal growth processes has empowering connotations for displaced women, those in relationship with them and society itself.

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