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Men are not the same anymore: Recent changes in gender relations in South East European societies

Inga Tomić-Koludrović and Mirko Petrić

18. November 2020, 18.45 p.m.

Following the breakup of Yugoslavia and the subsequent collapse of the “socialist gender regime”, concerns were voiced about the imminent retraditionalization of gender roles in the successor countries. However, if one is to judge by the data on the division of household labor, in this respect the position of women seems to have improved in the postsocialist period. Namely, unlike in the “paternalistic socialist states where women were defined primarily as workers yet were also expected to serve men” (Frader, 2006), and where almost the only help employed women could count on in the household chores was that of another woman (Sekulić, 1995), recent empirical research carried out in the post-Yugoslav states indicates that men are now performing some housework.

This lecture attempts to trace the reasons for this change, relying on the relevant primary quantitative and qualitative data from two recent research campaigns carried out in four South East European countries (Swiss National Science Foundation funded SCOPES and Croatian Science Foundation funded GENMOD). The approach to the subject is relational and data are presented on relative amounts of housework performed by men and women in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. However, a special focus is laid on gendered perceptions of fairness in housework and the varieties of strategies by which men negotiate it and accept to do it. A typology of households with respect to gender balance in housework is also presented, and possibilities of further change in the direction of more equity discussed.   

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