Flexible Working in the UK: interrogating policy through a gendered Bacchi lens

Nina Teasdale

Abstract

This article focuses on organisations’ flexible working policies and the UK’s Right to Request Flexible Working legislation first introduced in 2002 and progressively extended in 2009 and 2014. It critically explores the existing literature around flexible working to examine the UK’s policy approach through a gendered lens and by adopting Bacchi’s framework «What’s the problem represented to be». Three themes from the literature are identified and explored to problematise the deep-seated assumptions and silences underpinning policy: namely, the dominance of the business case rationale; the gendered substructure of organisations; and the disjuncture between policy «on paper» and policy «in practice». Through the lens of Bacchi, the article highlights that the «problems» underpinning the UK’s Right to Request legislation and organisation’s flexible working policies are neither fixed nor static, discursively shifting across «time», and that flexible working policies must be analytically situated within their social and economic contexts.

Keywords

Bacchi; Flexible working; Gender; Policy

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/fem.2020.35.06





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