Parents, perceptions and belonging : exploring flexible working among UK fathers and mothers

Gatrell, Caroline and Burnett, Simon and Cooper, Cary and Sparrow, Paul (2014) Parents, perceptions and belonging : exploring flexible working among UK fathers and mothers. British Journal of Management, 25 (3). pp. 473-487. ISSN 1045-3172

[thumbnail of BJM_paper_accepted_Jan_2014]
PDF (BJM_paper_accepted_Jan_2014)
BJM_paper_accepted_Jan_2014.pdf - Submitted Version

Download (223kB)


This paper advances knowledge regarding how fathers and mothers perceive and experience flexible working opportunities. It does this through applying the theoretical concept ‘belonging’ to ‘Parsonian’ classifications of parenting and work. In so doing it makes transparent the misconceptions and inequities which exist among parents and their organizational environments. Focusing initially on a qualitative study of fathers’ experience of working flexibly, the paper shows how fathers felt marginalized from the possibilities of flexible work due to line managers’ assumptions that men belonged to an ‘instrumental’ economic provider group. The paper contributes a new angle to debate by articulating how fathers perceived employed mothers as belonging to an ‘expressive’ child-oriented group, with privileged access to flexibility. However, drawing upon a study of maternity and flexible work we query fathers’ assumptions that flexibility was easily available to mothers, suggesting that fathers’ perceptions of maternal privilege were misconceived. While mothers were categorized as belonging within an ‘expressive’ group associated with childcare, they were nevertheless discouraged from accessing flexibility. Inequities between women and men (with regard to flexibility) thus appeared to be less significant than fathers supposed.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
British Journal of Management
Additional Information:
This is the pre-print version of the following article: Gatrell, C. J., Burnett, S. B., Cooper, C. L. and Sparrow, P. (2014), Parents, Perceptions and Belonging: Exploring Flexible Working among UK Fathers and Mothers. British Journal of Management, 25: 473–487. doi: 10.1111/1467-8551.12050 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? business, management and accounting(all)strategy and managementmanagement of technology and innovationdiscipline-based research ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
04 Nov 2013 12:16
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 10:48