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  • 10th International Community, Work and Family Conference

    ICWF Conference 2025

    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
    © Universität Bielefeld

10th International Community, Work & Family Conference 2025

Community, Work, and Family in Flux: Exploring Changing Structures, Policies, and Practices in a Global Perspective

25-28 March 2025 in Bielefeld, Germany

The 10th International Community, Work and Family Conference will bring together our global multidisciplinary community of scholars and practitioners to contribute to debates on changing structures, policies and practices of community, work and family (CWF) and to stimulate further research in this regard. We are currently witnessing simultaneous and ongoing dynamics of change at the global level. Prime examples are the COVID-19 pandemic, digitalization, climate change, migration, and ongoing armed conflicts. We invite paper presentations focusing on the meaning of these global change dynamics for CWF and their intersections. This includes contributions on long-term implications of the COVID 19 pandemic, digitalization and involved opportunities and risks for CWF, CWF in the eco-social transformation, or CWF in a context of ongoing conflict and war. Moreover, presentations are especially welcome which address public policies, inequality structures, and organizations as filters of attenuation and acceleration of global change. We also invite contributions on the politics of CWF, including consequences for policy feedback or social inequality. Papers on agency in CWF would help to shed light on individual strategies in managing the risks and opportunities involved in different dynamics of global change. We especially welcome contributions which integrate global perspectives of the global south and north.

The main conference will include keynotes by Prof. Dr. Tanja van der Lippe and Prof. Dr. Juliana Martínez Franzoni, thematic sessions, and several opportunities for networking, including social activities. PhD students are encouraged to submit abstracts to the conference as well as to take part in the PhD Workshop, which will take place on 25 March, the first day of the conference. The workshop offers PhD students the opportunity to present papers and receive feedback in two streams: “Gender, Work and Family” and “The Politics and Policies of Community, Work and Family”, each supported by one of the keynote speakers.

Please direct any questions to:

We are looking forward to receiving your paper proposals.

Anja-Kristin Abendroth, Sonja Blum, Mareike Reimann, and Antje Schwarz (Organizing Committee at Bielefeld University)

Important Dates

  • 1 March 2024: Call for papers disseminated
  • NEW 15 July 2024: Submission deadline for call for papers
  • 1 September 2024: Notification of acceptance
  • September-November 2024: Early bird registration
  • 20 February 2025: Submission of the full papers for the pre-conference distribution within sessions

Call for Papers

Please submit your paper proposal directly via the conference management tool Converia by 15 July 2024.

Main Conference Please submit an abstract (500 words max.) describing the research interest, the theoretical background and methodological approach, (preliminary) results, and how the research relates to the conference topic or session. Authors are only allowed to act once as main presenter.

PhD Workshop PhD students are invited to submit an abstract for one of the following topics: “Gender, Work and Family Life” or “The Politics and Policies of Community, Work and Family”. Submissions should include a longer abstract (1,000 words max.) describing the research project (i.e., the theoretical framework, research objectives, data and methods and essential bibliography). Participants will receive the opportunity to present and discuss their work with other PhD students from the field, the two keynote speakers and the organizing committee at Bielefeld University in depth.


During the submission process you will have to choose 1-2 of the topics or specific sessions:

Topics The following broader topics of the conference can be chosen for an open abstract submission.

We welcome your paper proposal that fits under the broader topic of "Social Change and CWF".

We welcome your paper proposal that fits under the broader topic of "Global Perspectives on CWF".

We welcome your paper proposal that fits under the broader topic of "Agency in CWF".

We welcome your paper proposal that fits under the broader topic of "Social Inequality Structures of CWF".

We welcome your paper proposal that fits under the broader topic of "Politics and Policies of CWF".

Specific Sessions The following session proposals have been accepted for the 10th International Community, Work and Family Conference and can be selected for abstract submission. The detailed descriptions can also be found here.

Marie-Fleur Philipp, Eileen Peters
Societal gender norms around work and family and individuals' related beliefs profoundly shape behavior regarding paid and unpaid work, contributing to gendered inequalities (Davis & Greenstein, 2009; Risman, 2018; Steiber & Haas, 2012). Hence, they shape family, care, and household dynamics, women's attachment and position in the labour market, and gender hierarchies across and within communities. Feminist and sociological scholars have long highlighted that national-level policies reflect and legitimize norms of how family, care, and paid work should be allocated (Kremer, 2007; Pfau-Effinger, 2004). In line with this, gender ideologies (e.g., Grunow et al., 2018; Begall et al., 2023) and the gendered division of labour (e.g., Kan et al., 2022; Ferragina, 2020) were found to differ across welfare regimes with varying (normative) support for different work-family arrangements. However, gender ideologies and norms can be altered, e.g., through life course events, including the transition to parenthood and policy reforms at the national- or organizational-level (Bolzendahl & Myers, 2004; Gangl & Ziefle, 2015).
Changing family and labour market structures, as well as national- and organizational-level policies in recent decades, have led to ongoing change in the community, work, and family spheres. Family policy efforts and especially provisions of maternity leave in line with the recommendation of the International Labour Organization increased across the globe (Barbosa et al., 2023; Filgueira & Rossel, 2021; Son & Böger, 2021). Moreover, government policies in Western countries and European Union directives have increasingly emphasized statutory policies to facilitate work-family balance (e.g., Ferragina, 2020; European Union, 2019). Considering the role of the welfare state for dominant gender norms (Kremer, 2007; Pfau-Effinger, 2004) and in line with normative policy feedback theories (Gangl & Ziefle, 2015), these policy reforms likely affected gender norms, ideologies, and practices regarding employment and family work. Parental leave policies supporting dual-earner/dual-carer families are associated with more egalitarian gender norms and ideologies in the global North and South (Heymann et al., 2019; Omidakhsh et al., 2020; Sjöberg, 2004). Single-country case studies provide further evidence for normative feedback effects of parental leave reforms (e.g., Gangl & Ziefle, 2015; Schober, 2014; Wray, 2020) and expansions of public daycare (Ellingsaeter et al., 2017; Zoch & Schober, 2018). Less is known about how other policies, e.g., a right to work part-time (and return to full-time) or parental leave reforms, might contribute to changing social norms. Furthermore, most research lacks explorations of the theoretical mechanisms of policy feedback, and only recently the relevance of individuals' awareness of available policies for their normative beliefs received attention (Büchau et al., 2023; Philipp et al., 2023).
Organizations mediate and translate national-level policies and likewise initiate such policies themselves (den Dulk et al., 2014; Van Breeschoten et al., 2019). However, most of the policy feedback research focuses on national-level policies, but less is known about how normative policy feedback regarding employees' gender ideologies and organizational-level norms operates at the level of the workplace. The small existing evidence suggests that they likewise matter for gender norms and ideologies (Lomazzi et al., 2018; Peters et al., 2020; Abendroth & Lükemann, 2023). Moreover, research based on survey experiments revealed that hypothetical supportive policies at work shape preferences for and beliefs regarding different work-care arrangements (Pedulla & Thébaud, 2015; Philipp et al., 2023). Furthermore, the implementation, use, and acceptance of national- and organizational-level policies are dependent on the specific organizational framework, leading to heterogeneity s regarding policy outcomes (Acker, 2006; Abendroth et al., 2017; Tomaskovic-Devey & Avent-Holt, 2019). For instance, German fathers' parental leave take-up is shaped by the workplace culture, highlighting the importance of the workplace context for national-level policy uptake (Reimer, 2018; Samtleben et al., 2019). National and organizational-level work-family policies might positively accelerate outcomes but can also contradict each other (Lott, 2019). This interplay between the macro and meso levels is crucial to understanding how organizations can promote or hinder change in the gendered division of labor and related gender norms and ideologies.
We invite contributions that help to shed light on how national and organizational policy contexts shape macro-level gender norms and micro-level gender ideologies, as these constitute one crucial barrier to overcome the stalled gender revolution (England, 2010). Contributions might address 1) the role of the policy context for variation in gender ideologies and norms across countries and organizations as well as 2) normative feedback effects of policy reforms at the state- or organizational-level as well as their interplay. In light of the measures taken to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, such as the closing down of public childcare facilities and schools, the increase in home office and flexible working time arrangements, and their gendered impact on women's and men's labor market attachment and childcare obligations (e.g., Alon et al., 2020; Reichelt et al., 2020; Globisch et al., 2022; Zoch et al., 2021), we further invite 3) explorations of potential normative policy feedback effects of the different COVID-19 pandemic-related measures on gender norms, ideologies, and practices, their stability and variation across welfare regimes, country and organizational contexts. Finally, considering the close interrelation between i) welfare states and the life course (Yerkes et al., 2012; Grunow & Evertsson, 2019), ii) life course transitions and changing gender ideologies (Grinza et al., 2022) and iii) policy contexts and reforms with prevalent gender norms and ideologies (Zoch & Schober, 2018), we invite contributions on 4) potential moderating influences of policy contexts (and related gender cultures) for the effects of major life course transitions in the realm of work and family on gender norms, ideologies and practices. Our goal is to better understand how policy contexts and reforms at different levels (country, region, organization) and their interplay shape gender norms and ideologies. These are central to how individuals and couples make decisions related to paid and unpaid work and how employers distribute rewards and resources, hence shaping gender relations in the community, work and family spheres.
Sophie-Charlotte Meyer, Anita Tisch, Ines Entgelmeier
The work-related use of digital technologies, coupled with the flexibility in both time and space has become an integral aspect of everyday working life for a growing number of employees. The adoption of practices such as working from home or the work-related use of virtual tools has become established, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, there has been a substantial transformation in the organization of work also bringing about changes for employees – particularly in terms of job quality and the integration of private and working life. Obviously, the use of digital technologies facilitates increased flexibility in managing time and location, thereby fostering a better integration of private needs into everyday working life. Working from home, in particular, affords the advantage of time saved on commuting, thereby allowing individuals more time for their private lives. However, alongside the evident benefits of flexible work arrangements and work-life integration, there is a growing discourse on the potential adverse effects of such environments. Empirical evidence indicates that digital and flexible work are associated with an intensification and extension of work, including increased pressure and more interruptions but also working overtime. Consequently, digital and flexible work also have the potential to blur the boundaries between work and private life thus hindering the attainment of an optimal work-life balance. In addition, there is growing evidence that not all employees benefit equally from flexible work environments. The associated opportunities and risks of digital work appear to be unequally distributed among various groups of employees, potentially giving rise to (new) social inequalities, either perpetuated or exacerbated by the use of digital technologies and the accompanying flexibility.

This session aims to look behind these developments and seeks to unravel the ambivalent outcomes of digital work for job quality, employee well-being and work-life integration. In particular, this session seeks for empirical papers exploring the challenges of digital and flexible work environments for employees in a short- and (especially) long-term perspective. Here, we are especially interested in heterogenous effects for different groups of employees as well as (organizational) framework conditions that can be decisive for different effects of digital work on job quality, work-life-integration and wellbeing. We encourage presentations on the benefits and challenges of digitalization and flexibilization which focus on new (social) inequalities with regard to the following or similar aspects:

▪ Group specific differences:
Who benefits and who faces risks in the course of the digitization and flexibilization of work? What role do age, gender, family and caring responsibilities for example play with regard to the demands of digital work? For whom does it enable better work-life integration? For whom do conflicts and burdens increase? Do the benefits and risks of digital work differ in terms of job quality according to qualification or occupation?

▪ Framework conditions, work environment and culture:
What conditions enhance job quality, work-life integration and well-being through technology, which factors contribute to positive/negative outcomes in these terms? How do formal conditions in the organization shape the relationship? What is the role of organizational culture in which these flexible work arrangements are integrated? What is the intention to implement flexible work arrangements driven by employee issues (e.g., to enable a better compatibility) or company issues (e.g., to improve performance)? What role do significant others such as superiors and colleagues play here?
Inga Laß, Ayhan Adams
Ways of reconciling work and family are the object of negotiation between employees, their families, and work organizations. Flexible working arrangements, such as telework or schedule control, can facilitate reconciliation by providing individuals with greater agency to cope with daily challenges. For example, studies have provided evidence of reduced work-family conflict (Laß & Wooden, 2022), stronger perceived work-life support from supervisors (Abendroth & Schwarz, 2023), and a higher likelihood of mother's labor market return after the birth of a child (Chung & van der Horst, 2018) among flexible workers. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the progressing digitalization, flexible ways of working independently of a fixed location or time frame have spread. However, large differences in organizational, occupational, and global access and ability to work flexibly persist and define workers’ scope for reconciling work and family life. Current research on flexible work and the family therefore needs to take on an inequality-sensitive perspective and to investigate whether social inequalities dissolve, emerge, or are rewritten after the pandemic.
On one hand, the ability to work flexibly has expanded but has done so unevenly. Whereas pre-pandemic, flexible work was only available to a minority, it has now become a benefit for many employees that is sometimes taken for granted. Labor shortages have increased workers’ power to bargain for flexible work arrangements. However, it is still particularly workers with high occupational status and income who have access to flexible working. From a global perspective, structural inequalities like access to digital connectivity and the nature of occupations determine workers’ ability to work flexibly, leading to differences in work-family reconciliation.
On the other hand, challenges arise in the practical implementation of flexible working. The implications of flexible working for workers’ family lives strongly depend on how exactly it is utilized. Specifically, when flexible work is used outside recognised working hours and during overtime, it is likely to increase work-family conflict and feelings of exhaustion (Golden, 2012). Furthermore, overtime at home has been reported to be associated with a worse temporal alignment of work and family life (Mergener et al., 2023) and concerns about neglecting family demands due to work (Ojala et al., 2014). In these unregulated work arrangements, the scope for fulfilling private demands and the time with family are shrinking.
Moreover, digital communication constitutes a double-edged sword for workers: On the upside, it functions as a boundary-spanning opportunity in flexible working arrangements that facilitates collaboration and transitions between domains. On the downside, it exposes employees to the risk of constant connectivity (Wacjman & Rose, 2011). As a consequence, some countries now provide employees with the right to disconnect from work at the end of the regular workday.
In line with these findings, the proposed session invites contributions that provide insights into the context-sensitivity of the effects of flexible working on workers and their families. The family structure and living situation are of great relevance. For example, families with limited living space or high care demands are particularly vulnerable to time and living space conflicts when work is done at home. Furthermore, previous studies highlight the role of the organizational context in terms of workplace culture and work-family support moderating the impact of flexible working arrangements on the reconciliation of work and family (Abendroth & Reimann, 2018). Likewise, national contexts such as labor regulation and work-life supportive institutions have to be considered to understand the effects of flexible working arrangements on employees.
The proposed open session on "Flexible work and (new) social inequalities among families" invites contributions that provide insights on the following questions:
1. Are (new) social inequalities dissolving, emerging, or rewritten in flexible working arrangements?
2. Which social inequalities are prevalent in the ability to work flexibly?
3. Which socially unequal implications are connected with the utilization of flexible working, especially for the work-family interface?
4. How does digital communication technology shape the implications of flexible working for the workfamily interface?
5. How do the contexts of family, organization, national labor regulation and institutional work-life support shape the effects of flexible working on families?
Our interests include (but are not limited to) gender, class, occupation, and abilities to work flexibly and digitally. We aim for contributions with a qualitative or quantitative methodology as well as theoretical-conceptual contributions. Cross-country perspectives are as welcome as national perspectives. Please make sure to outline within your abstract (as appropriate) the research question, theoretical approach, data and methodology, main findings, and interpretation/implications.
Marlene Schuster, Gerlinde Maurer, Sonja Dörfler-Bolt
Changing norms on fatherhood are on a global agenda in research, policymaking and society. So called “new” or “modern” fathers are portrayed as role models (Schmidt et al. 2015) and qualitative investigations as well as theoretical conceptualizations of “involved fatherhood” have emerged (Peukert 2017; Brumley 2018). Nevertheless, a dichotomous, hierarchical gender order in organizational structures is still to be observed (Mauerer 2023). In our session, we want to include theoretical conceptualizations on modern fatherhood as well as empirical research that included fathers' as well as couples' experiences in sharing employment and childcare. We ask for contributions in empirical research that focus on family management and bearing mental load and challenges in sharing specific domains and parental tasks such as being a contact person for institutions in childcare and education. Furthermore, we want to bring together and discuss theoretical and empirical studies on masculinities and parenthood, research on shared parental leave and pathways for promoting as well as "destabilizing" gendered concepts of parenthood. In that sense, contributions that go beyond research on same-sex couples and biological parenthood are highly welcome.

Kseniya Navazhylava, Uracha Chatrakul Na Ayudhya

Session focus
Witnessing the flux of ongoing change, stemming from challenges such as COVID-19 pandemic, digitalization, threats to climate, migration, and ongoing armed conflicts, puts the well-being of workers and communities around the world, including academic community, in question. Extreme situations like this provide an opportunity to “turn upon oneself” (Foucault,1997:96) and establish a relationship with oneself, governing oneself, enjoying oneself, teaching oneself, and learning from oneself, which Foucault understood as self-care. Since the Greco-Roman times one of the practices that contributed to self-care in face of challenges is writing: joining together knowledge about the world and knowledge about oneself (Foucault, 1997). Affordances of materiality are known to shape social practice and wiring is not an exception (Kreniske, 2017). In the modern world, digital technologies allow for collective writing that contributes to alternative practices of self-care in the face of crisis such as global pandemic (Navazhylava et al., 2023), at the backdrop of on-going experimentation with forms of writing such as poetry (Kostera, 1997), textiles (Rippin, 2013) and dolls (Rippin, 2015), and ways of exploring the ‘bodiliness’ of academic research and writing (Essén & Värlander, 2013). (Boncori, 2022) argues that writing differently concerns content, topics and sensibilities; (Pagliarussi, 2022) suggests to incorporate author’s voice, stories and attractive titles and paragraphs; what other practices become available for academic writers? How else does technology, such as digital media and artificial intelligence, shape writing differently?

In addition to the practices of writing, recently, the process of writing has been put in flux. Participative research questions the extraction of data, aims and position of researchers and their subjects in creating research projects (Baskerville, 1997; Reason, 1994). Calling for affective writing that develops a writing where bodies are simultaneously active and inscribed upon, (Mandalaki, 2020; Vachhani & Pullen, 2019) suggested to show the difficulty of writing from the body and thus challenge the gendered structures operating in the Academy. Such as, exploring the feelings of shame and physical angst during the ethnographic work (Beavan, 2019), or employing multi-voice autoethnography to highlight the interplay of academic work and academic bodies in the experience of author’s miscarriage (Boncori & Smith, 2019), being guided by bodily metaphors such as writing as skin (Brewis & Williams, 2019), or taking stock of interpersonal influences and disruption (Weatherall, 2019). What other changes to the process of writing emerge in response to globalization, migration and digitalization, health crises, cancelling culture and other challenges that are on-going? How do they reflect the changes in ethics of academic process, and how do they shape values of the future academics and what is understood as academic rigor?

Furthermore, resulting from a reflexive “turn into oneself” of the academic community, calls have emerged to search for alternatives to the current scientific form of writing. Playful explorations with forms of writing allow writing differently to communicate less abstractly (Grey & Sinclair, 2006), or more imaginative, experimental, dialogic (Helin, 2019) and reflexive (Richardson, 2000). Specifically, existing attempts to break with the traditional academic genres include narrating ethnographies in poetic form (Beavan, 2019), in the form of mystery novel playfully reproducing the plot from existing Agatha Christie’s novel (Kociatkiewicz & Kostera, 2019), or in a genre of response letter proposing to reject a
submission (Kociatkiewicz & Kostera, 2024). How to make sense of these explorations? How does the form of academic writing reflect on academic impact, on legitimacy of academia? How does such experimentation impact the jurisdictional boundaries between science and art (Biehl & Schönfeld, 2023; Grafström & Jonsson, 2020)? How to bridge the schools of thought where adherence to blueprints is used as a criteria for evaluating the quality of work, with the schools of thought that highlight adaptation, innovation and creativity? What other developments to genre and form of academic writing are possible without compromising academic rigor?

Aforementioned global changes such as globalization, migration and changing structure of the workforce also call for different approaches to interpretation, both of the data that inform academic writing and the products of the latter. Existing options include postfeminist approaches to research – for instance, an event-based approach through through creative fiction, corporeal movement, and collective speculation (Kinnunen et al., 2021), or appropriating voices of others (Yan et al., 2023). Moreover, postcolonial approaches emerge that warn of fetishizing the stranger by assuming others having distinctly different lives and problems (Ahmed, 2000), of excluding those who are neuro-atypical
through sedimenting heteronormative, neurotypical conceptions of the Global-North (Bozalek, 2022), or attempt at deterretorializing research (Honan & Bright, 2016) and szhysoanalysis – simultaneous use of a plurality of models and thinking with plurality of voices (Bozalek, 2022). How do academic institutions work as filters of these global changes? What barriers exist to making academic writing more inclusive? What structures should be built to support new ethics of research?

We welcome submissions that engage with this and other questioning about writing differently, and of course, that practice writing differently, for an open discussion of where from and why we are writing.

Relation to the theme of the conference
This session is relevant to the Community, Work and Family as it addresses the way wellbeing of academics as community members, family members and workers could be secured through practice of writing.

Aligned with the theme of the conference being “Community, Work, and Family in Flux: Exploring changing structures, policies, and practices in a global perspective”, this session addresses ongoing challenges such as pandemic, digitalization, migration as opportunities to “turn upon oneself” and construct alternative practices of wellbeing through collectively caring for self and others through writing (Navazhylava et al., 2023).

In addition, the questions suggested in the call for this session, aim to integrate the global perspectives of the global south and north through inviting submissions using postfeminist and postcolonial approaches to writing, in line with the philosophy of the CWF conference.

Finally, the session aims to spur a debate on changing policies and practices that hinder writing differently and highlight the organization structures that filter changes towards more inclusivity.

Ann-Christin Bächmann, Dana Müller, Kevin Ruf

In recent decades, women's participation in the labour force has steadily increased in many Western societies (OECD 2018). This trend has been accompanied by an erosion of the traditional male breadwinner model, and thus of the clear division of care work and gainful employment in families. As a result, work-life balance issues have become a major topic of public and political debate. As women still often bear the main responsibility for household and care work (Grunow 2019), in particular female – but more and more also male – employees are confronted with time and role conflicts (Masterson & Hoobler 2014). These conflicts are challenging for both employees and employers, as they are inter alia associated with higher levels of stress (Voydanoff 2005) and lower productivity (Glass and Estes, 1997). Simultaneously, demographic change is making it increasingly difficult for companies to recruit and retain skilled workers. Research shows that a family-friendly working environment is an important factor in improving job satisfaction and increasing employees' motivation to work and thus to retain good employees in the company (Hayman, 2009; Butts et al., 2013; Zheng et al., 2015). Overall, the trends described above mean that companies are increasingly faced with the need to enable a better reconciliation of family and working life, and thus with the challenge of integrating compatibility options into their human resources policies and daily processes.

Accordingly, in recent years, companies have expanded their family-friendly arrangements in Germany (Frodermann et al. 2019) and other countries around the world (Evans 2001). Thereby, organizational measures to improve the reconciliation of work and private life can look very different: They range from a reduction in weekly working hours or the possibility of working from home, to specific familyrelated measures such workplace childcare or special onboarding processes after parental leave. Despite the growing demand and supply of family-friendly organizational measures, scientific research on the usage and consequences of those measures for different groups of employees is still rare. This is also because there are special data requirements for this type of analysis. To consider the employer and employee sides simultaneously linked individual and establishment data is particularly suitable. Against this background, the aim of the proposed session is to bring together research projects that explore...

  • the introduction and consequences of different formal organizational arrangements
  • the importance of structural working conditions (such as flexible working time arrangements or the possibility of working from home) and
  • the importance of the working environment, organizational culture and informal arrangements for the reconciliation of family and working life.

We encourage to hand in contributions that focus on different outcomes on the employee side ranging from employment patterns and wage development to satisfaction and health. We are particularly interested in research that focuses on the consequences of organizational arrangements for inequalities between different social groups.

Overall, the aim of the session is to shed light on the interplay between individual decisions and company strategies for improving work-life balance in different political, social and structural contexts. The sessions goal is to bring together excellent international researchers in the fields of organizational and labour market research. Beyond this, we are very interested in stimulating a fruitful discussion on the theoretical and empirical challenges associated with existing linked employer-employee data, and in developing new, innovative ways to analyze the interaction between organizations and individuals.

Eva-Maria Schmidt, Andreas Baierl, Barbara Beham

Over the last decades, working life, careers, and workplaces have changed profoundly in Western countries and have become mobile, variable, and flexible. At the same time, a plethora of research has shown how men’s fathering practices have transformed slowly but steadily towards more caring, intimate, and emotionally engaged ways of fathering (e.g., Adler et al., 2023; Doucet, 2018; Grau-Grau, 2022). Fathers increasingly wish to invest more time in caregiving and policies – at the level of both welfare states and companies – would support them to do so; however, fathers do not act and decide in isolation. Rather, their practices and decisions are related to social norms and collective attitudes that are reproduced in interactions with various actors in different life spheres such as the workplace (Ewald, Gilbert, & Huppatz, 2023; Koslowski, 2023; Laß & Wooden, 2023; Li & Zerle-Elsässer, 2023). In our session, we want to focus on these normative expectations and collective attitudes towards working fathers in these contexts because they are supposed to serve as filters of change in shaping fathers' options, constraining their freedom of choice and scope of action, and entailing challenges for individual fathers.

Fathers’ options, choices, attitudes, responsibilities, and practices are shaped by employment relationships, workplace interactions, and dominant working time regimes. Companies and policies have increasingly facilitated flexibility in working hours and family friendliness at working places, thereby increasing individuals’ freedom to choose how they organize their family relationships and manage work-life boundaries (James, 2009; Nabergoj & Pahor, 2016; Wiß, 2017). However, women and men are exposed differently to flexibility stigmas (Chung, 2020; Williams, Blair-Loy, & Berdahl, 2013) and develop a different sense of entitlement towards work-life policies (Alemann, Beaufaӱs, & Oechsle,
2017; Brandth & Kvande, 2018; Lewis & Smithson, 2016). For example, men’s sense of entitlement to family-friendly policies may arise only in highly supportive organizational cultures (Bernhardt & Bünning, 2017). Furthermore, men seem to be less likely to reduce working hours as do women (Langner, 2018), and are more likely to be expected to fulfil the normative expectations of the ideal employee and worker (Acker, 2013; Beham, Baierl, & Eckner, 2019; Beham, Drobnič, Präg, Baierl, & Eckner, 2018; Williams, 2009). With regard to family responsibilities, women and men are expected to fulfill different ideals of intensive parenting (Faircloth, 2014; Gauthier et al., 2021) and/or breadwinning (Dallos & Kovács, 2021; Schmidt, 2018; Warren, 2022) that constrain and shape flexible working options for fathers.

In our session, we welcome papers that deal with questions regarding these complex interrelations that fathers face in the workplace and in society. We aim to unpack in more detail how various actors at workplaces and in organizations construct, understand, and find strategies to deal with fathers’ caring responsibilities; how can we tackle normative forces and collective attitudes in the working sphere that might hinder fathers’ responsible caregiving in their families; and which workplace interventions and organizational realities have the potential to change and degenderize family responsibilities. In relation with the theme of the CWF conference 2025, this session aims to explore changing structures, policies, and practices of fathering in a relational and global perspective. We welcome papers from diverse disciplinary and country contexts, empirical work that applies both quantitative or qualitative methods, as well as conceptual or theoretical work on the topic.

Johanna Lammi-Taskula, Ivana Dobrotić

Paid parenting leaves provide social protection against labour market risks for parents before and after the birth of a child, as well as the time to provide care. They are more firmly established within the welfare state architecture than carers’ leaves acknowledging the need to provide care through the life course, providing carers with paid leave to provide personal care or support to a relative or another close person/household member. As leave rights and quotas for fathers/partners have been introduced, parenting leave policies tended to counteract gender inequalities that may emerge from a traditional gendered division of labour. However, multiple and intertwined inequalities still prevail as leave designs place most of the care on women, while some groups of parents/carers are still excluded from paid leave. Also, variations in leave benefits may limit possibilities for take-up.

We welcome submissions for presentations on various perspectives of (in-)equalities in (parenting) leave policies development and design, as well as take-up of leave, e.g. according to gender, employment status, diverse family forms or health. These can include perspectives of self-employed, students, migrants, lone-parents, same-sex parents, adoptive parents, persons with disabilities or long-term illness, etc. Also, papers analysing the implications of parental leave policies for inequalities between children in physical or mental health, cognitive development, or well-being are welcomed. We particularly encourage the submission of papers that link socially sustainable goals of, for example, ending poverty and aiming towards good health, well-being and gender equality with leave policies.

We especially welcome studies that transcend the gender-only approaches, that is, provide a better understanding of complex, multiple and intersectional inequalities that underline leave policy designs, developments and outcomes. In other words, we would like to inspire submissions with a more critical approach, challenging social policy designs in the light of growing diversity in employment patterns, work and family choices, lifestyles and lifecycles and offering new insights to the contemporary understanding of new challenges and institutional evolution of welfare states. Recognizing conceptual and methodological pluralism, we encourage proposals arising from different conceptual and methodological approaches in analysing leave policies and reforms from an inequalities perspective, and covering broad geographical areas.


Registrations will be possible from September 2024 via the conference management tool Converia.


Registration Fees 10th ICWF 2025


Early bird registration Late registration
  (September-November 2024) (From December 2024)
Phd students 250,00€ 350,00€
Attendees from low and lower middle-income countries* 250,00€ 350,00€
WFRN members 325,00€ 425,00€
Others 375,00€ 475,00€
*For a list of countries, please visit this website.    

Preliminary Schedule

A preliminary schedule will be published soon.

  • On March 25, the PhD workshop will take place from 1 pm to 6 pm, followed by a joint networking dinner (self-paid).
  • On March 26, sessions and talks will be from 1 pm to 6 pm, followed by a conference dinner.
  • On March 27, sessions and talks will take place from 9 am to 6 pm, followed by social activities.
  • On March 28, sessions and talks will be from 9 am to 1 pm.


Information for travelling to Bielefeld and arriving at the university can be found here.

The University is looking forward welcoming you at the campus. Sessions, talks and lunch will take place in the building X (“Gebäude X”) Universitätsstraße 24, 33615 Bielefeld.

Nestled in Germany's heart, Bielefeld offers a rich history and vibrant culture for both ancient and modern exploration. Its pivotal industrial role in fabric manufacturing and food production underscores its innovative spirit. Bielefeld's allure extends beyond history, offering dynamic art scenes, bustling markets, and innovative culinary delights, blending old-world charm with contemporary flair. Set amidst the Teutoburg Forest, it is a destination for relaxation and outdoor adventures in the countryside. As an academic hub, Bielefeld hosts many institutions like Bielefeld University and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, fostering intellectual exchange.

  • Bielefeld University ©
  • Bielefeld University ©
  • Bielefeld University ©

The ICWF Organizing Committee has secured rooms for reduced prices in the heart of Bielefeld. Information on booking discounted rooms from the hotel contingents will be included in the confirmation of the conference registration.


Steigenberger Hotel Bielefelder Hof 
Am Bahnhof 3, 33602 Bielefeld

Légère Hotel Bielefeld 
Neumarkt 2, 33602 Bielefeld

Comfort Garni Stadtzentrum Hotel 
Bahnhofstraße 32, 33602 Bielefeld

Ibis Styles Bielefeld 
Niederwall 31-35, 33062 Bielefeld

B&B HOTEL Bielefeld-City 
Europaplatz 2, 33613 Bielefeld


ICWF Conference 2025

10th International Community, Work and Family Conference

Prof. Dr. Anja Abendroth,

Prof. Dr. Sonja Blum,

Dr. Mareike Reimann,

Antje Schwarz


Faculty of Sociology,
Bielefeld University,
Universitätsstrasse 25,
33615 Bielefeld


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