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Elasticity of care networks and the gendered division of care

The gender gap in family care-giving is an established research finding: men dedicate less time to care-giving and provide specific gendered types of help. This article argues that in order to grasp men's contribution to care arrangements one should recognise the multifaceted nature of care and examine care networks beyond the ‘care receiver–primary care-giver’ dyad with a dynamic perspective. A qualitative analysis of the care networks of three large Dutch families with an older parent in need of care confirms the greater involvement of women in care-giving and men's tendency to provide specific types of care. However, men also contribute to the elasticity and stability of the care arrangement by filling temporary gaps and supporting the female care-givers. This article puts forward the idea that men's contribution is in turn a factor in the perpetuation of the gendered structure of care-giving.

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Ageing & Society

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