Main research interests

My research interests are broadly around issues concerning cross-national comparative analysis of welfare states and their labour markets.

In general I am interested in the changes occurring to working conditions and to the nature of work/labour markets in post-industrial and newly digitalised/ high-tech societies. The main method used to answer these questions is multilevel modelling using cross-national/European data. However, I also use qualitative methods including interviews, focus groups, digital diaries, deliberate forums, and policy analyses.

Here are my current on-going projects. I know it looks like a lot but they all kind of link to one another.

Flexibility stigma and the role of contexts (2021ish - on going)

This is currently my new baby/focus of research. With a number of people -e.g. Yvonne Lott at HBS, Germany, Senhu Wang at National University of Singapore, and Hyojin Seo based on KU Leuven I am conducting a series of projects/papers examining issues around flexibility stigma - that is the stigmatised ideas around flexible workers. There are several on-going projects. My main grant proposal for the ESRC Transforming working lives was unsuccessful despite having outstanding/excellent evaluations, however, I have subsequently received grant monies from the European Commission H2020 bid, Norwegian Science Foundation and others to carry work out on this area. 

Related papers from this project include

Flexible working experience of BAME workers (2022/Oct - on going)

With the UK Trades Union Congress we will be examining the experiences of BAME workers' flexible working. This includes experiences on well-being, work-life balance, but also on discrimination, access to power/career and training opportunities, and interaction with colleagues, managers and the organisations itself. Data will be gathered in multiple ways - including focus groups, interviews, online survey, and finally with 24 BAME hybrid workers we will be using a digital diary to try to capture the lived experiences of workers working in a hybrid manner. 

Working from home and impact on division of housework and on the family, and the impact of gender role attitudes (2020 and on going)

This is a topic I have been working on during my WAF project a bit, but not in great detail other than its impact on work-family conflict/blurring of boundaries. However, I have been working on this topic a bit more since the end of that project. What keeps coming out as our interest is the importance of gender role attitudes. I am currently working on a paper with Olga Leshchenko exploring how WFH relate to division of housework differently for men and women with different GRAs using the German pairfam data. With Shiyu Yuan we are examining how WFH relate to fertility rates, but again differently for workers with different GRAs. I have also a couple of papers recently published on the matter of WFH and division of labour/GRAs - they are:

4 day week and shorter working hours (2018 and on going)

I have been working with the Korean Federation of Trade Unions on the use of flexible working in light of the working hours reduction law that came into force in 2018. With this, I have also been writing on the 4 day week campaigns of the TUC and the UK Labour party and its implication for Korea. I am hoping to extend this to a project on the implementation and barriers and the societal outcomes of a national move towards a 4 day week/shorter working hours. No specific grants on this at the moment, but I have a couple of papers/chapters I will be writing on this topic so watch this space.

related publications

The ideal worker project (2023 and in the near future?)

Related to the above project is the project on measuring and thinking about how to change the ideal worker norm. As many of you know, one of my life long goal is to slay the dragon that is the persistent long-hours based ideal worker norm that prevails in so many different countries, including Korea, UK, and the US - all three of the countries I was born, raised and lived most of my life in. I mention in my book and articles how this is possibly the biggest reason why flexible working doesn't work the way it is supposed to with regards to gender equality and workers' well-being - namely leading to the (gendered) paradox. My project idea is then to try to explore a bit further the norms around who the ideal worker is, and how it varies for workers' and managers as well as across countries. Having lived in the Netherlands and also spent quite a bit of time in Berlin, and Denmark I think there are genuine differences in the norm around the ideal worker in light of the different modes of capitalism across these countries (I know Berlin is not a country). Most importantly this issue of variation relates to how we can change the ideal worker norm so that it is someone who has responsibilities outside of work who is able to better balance work with family life and work fewer but focused hours, autonomously.

I don't have much time to spend on this right now, but at the moment working on a couple of papers which aims to look at the ideal worker norm and its impact on flexible working outcomes/stigma, and also working with Jan Muller(Zurich) on measuring the ideal worker (vs work life balance norm) in Switzerland using survey data and job application data.  I may incorporate this idea of the ideal worker norm in some of the experimental data surveys I will be conducting with the stigma projects.

Working from home during COVID-19 lockdown (2020 april ish - on going)

With Sarah Forbes and Holly Birkett of Birmingham Business School, we conducted a survey of workers (mostly parents) on their experiences of working from home, their attitudes/preferences towards flexible working especially in the future, and how this shaped division of housework/childcare, their mental health issues etc. The report is now out and more about this can be found here: 

publications from this project include:

Division of Mental load among couples (2018 and on going)

We (Anke Plagnol and Shireen Kanji) have received some seed funding from City University to carry out some quantitative survey of how mental load is divided among couples. This will be one of the first papers to try to capture the concept of mental load through a survey technique and we hope to find instruments that can be validated and used by others. Started in Autumn 2019 - on going.


Shared care of children between couples and well-being outcomes for the family (2018 and on going)

We (with Pierre Walthery) have been awarded a grant by the UK Government Equalities Office to carry out a literature review and a data analysis - using the UK Time Use Survey 2015 to examine the patterns of care among parents, how work patterns related to sharing of care, and how shared childcare between parents influence well-being outcomes of children and parents. The project ran from December 2018 to February 2021 - and we are currently submitting journal articles that were written off of this project.

The two reports from this project are

Previous Projects (till 2018)

Other awarded grants