The Power of Money in Dual Earner CouplesISER External Seminars

Building on the notion of the social nature of money, this talk investigates how dual-earner couples in Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the USA deal with money in their everyday lives. In-depth open-ended interviews conducted with 45 couples in these four countries are used to analyze whether money is defined as ‘joint’ or ‘separate’, and the consequences such definitions have for the couple’s relationship. The talk demonstrates that constructions of what exactly ‘joint’ or ‘separate’ money means are related to institutionalized cultural frameworks embodied in welfare policies which vary from country to country. The concept of the convertibility of money is deployed to demonstrate the conditions under which money can unfold its power within intimate relationships. Couples in Spain and in Sweden show low convertibility of money against other resources, but for different reasons: In Spain, money is ‘joint money’ from the outset, whereas in Sweden it is kept ‘separate’ and outside of the relationship. In contrast, in the USA and Germany money, while often classified as ‘joint’ by the couples, is seen as an individual contribution to the relationship; therefore it can be, and often is, converted into other resources such as domestic work or recognition.

Presented by:

Jutta Allmendinger (Social Science Research Center (WZB) , Germany)

Date & time:

7 Dec 2009 16:00 pm - 7 Dec 2009 17:30 pm

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