Christine Roman (2019) Gendered and classed experiences of work–family conflict among lone mothers in Sweden, Community, Work & Family, 22:3, 302-318, DOI: 10.1080/13668803.2018.1456404

Research on the relationship between lone motherhood and social class is indeed limited. Drawing on 39 in-depth interviews, the overall aim of this article is to increase knowledge of the ways that working conditions and access to economic resources impact on Swedish lone mothers’ opportunities to integrate paid work and family. One assumption is that lone mothers are guided by culturally shaped ideas about the proper way to be a mother, and that variance between mothers’ notions of good mothering and the means for their realization, i.e. sociological ambivalence, may give rise to conflicts and dilemmas. Results show that low incomes, non-standard hours and temporary employment reduced working-class mothers’ prospects of practising the kind of mothering they considered proper, creating dilemmas and high levels of conflict. Mothers could not always effectively use the rights granted to parents by the Swedish welfare state. The variances between notions about good mothering and the means for realizing them were not as big for middle-class mothers, thanks to greater access to economic capital and flexible working hours. Different opportunity structures hence significantly influenced lone mothers’ opportunity to combine paid work and caring commitments in ways they found appropriate.