UNPAID PUBLIC WORK IS NOT COST FREE: MILITARY SPOUSES PERFORMING EMOTIONAL LABOUR

Summary

Report

Cost of Living Blog

Blue Star Families Blog

BFBS interview (at 24:25 to 26:47 minutes)

  • The research explored the nature of unpaid public work undertaken by women married to senior military officers. The diversity of tasks and the breadth and depth of skills required to undertake various public roles were at times overwhelming and at other times a positive experience.
  • Unpaid public work had positive and negative impacts on health and wellbeing. Moreover, there were paradoxes typified by: delaying seeking personal health care while supporting others’ health and welfare needs; being on the one hand lonely but at the same time lacking privacy and control over daily lives; and having a personal sense of value from the work alongside not being valued by formal military structures and the general public.
  • There are decreasing numbers of spouses and partners undertaking unpaid public work and the resultant gaps in pastoral and welfare support will need to be filled by other agencies from the public or charitable sectors.
  • Where spouses and partners do continue to pursue unpaid public work, improved support is required, and the work needs to be given greater value. A common suggestion from participants was for confidential peer support. Further research is required to evaluate implementation of context specific interventions. Such research should include men and women, all ranks of the military, be international and include unpaid work in other sectors such as diplomats, politicians and clergy partners.

 

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