1st Edition

Opting Out and In On Women’s Careers and New Lifestyles

By Ingrid Biese Copyright 2017
    150 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    Opting Out and In: On women’s careers and new lifestyles introduces a new perspective and definition of opting out that better reflects contemporary issues and lifestyles. The book offers a timely and comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon of women leaving high-powered careers, adding to current debates on opting out. It investigates the themes of globalization, individualization and the age of high modernity and addresses issues of how gender, in the context of what it means to be a mother and career woman in a masculinist society, affects decisions to opt out. In contrast to previous debates, the definition of opting out is broadened to include leaving prevalent masculinist notions of career to adopt alternative ways of working.

    To better understand the identity issues and inner workings of the women who opt out, opting out is critically examined through three lenses: agency and autonomy; gender, femininity and the maternal; and, finally, concepts of reinvention. These three areas of inquiry all raise and problematize relevant issues that are present in women’s lives, and that have a deep and defining effect on concepts of the self. The book includes the narratives of six women, interwoven with in-depth social theory and relevant debates.

    Written in an engaging and accessible style, Opting Out and In will strongly appeal to researchers and practitioners alike, working in areas such as social theory, globalization, feminist studies and identity studies.

    Introduction: Opting Out and In

    I.1. A Debated Phenomenon

    I.2. A Narrative Approach to Studying Opting Out

    I.3. The Narratives

    I.4. Introducing the Women

    I.5. The Structure of the Book

    1. Globalization, Individualization, and Gender in Contemporary Society

    1.1. Globalization, Technology, and Media

    1.2. Post-traditional, Risk Society

    1.3. The Effect of Globalization on Working Culture

    1.4. Gendered Organizations

    1.5. Focusing on Work-Life Balance: Problems and Paradoxes

    1.6. Competing Schemas

    1.7. Conclusion

    2. Lacking Agency, Coherence, and Control

    2.1. Linn: The Love of Work and the Vitality of Living

    2.2. Understanding Agency

    2.3. Naomi and the Wakeup Call of the Emergency Room

    2.4. The Importance of Narrative

    2.5. Autonomy: An Alternative View

    2.6. Conclusion

    3. Gender and Femininity in Contemporary Society

    3.1. Amy and the Unexpected Need to Be with Her Children

    3.2. The Symbolic, Semiotic, and Maternal

    3.3. Mediated Womanhood

    3.4. Ella: Stepping Off the Ladder while Staying On at Work

    3.5. Contemporary Feminism and the Freedom to Choose

    3.6. Conclusion

    4. Opting In

    4.1. Michelle: The Journey from Incoherence to Coherence and Control

    4.2. Reinvention

    4.3. Nora’s Story: "I pulled the hand brake"

    4.4. Reflection, Authenticity, and the Threat to Identity

    4.5. Conclusion

    5. Epilogue: Opting Out and Then What?

    5.1. Linn: Confidence in Knowing What She Wants

    5.2. Ella: Back on The Fast Track?

    5.3. Nora: Getting Her Business Off the Ground

    5.4. Michelle and the Ebbs and Flows of Life

    5.5. Amy: Getting Back on the Job Market

    5.6. Naomi and the Wear and Tear of Constant Transitioning

    5.7. Opting Out – A Story of Success?


    Ingrid Biese is an Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Management and Organisation at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland. After having opted out of a career in consulting, Ingrid started working on a PhD, which she received from the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. Her primary area of research is opting out and in among both men and women, as well as sustainable working cultures and career models. Ingrid has introduced a new definition of opting out to include leaving mainstream career models to adopt new lifestyles where one can live and work on one’s own terms. Other areas of interest are globalization, individualization, identity and gender. Ingrid regularly gives talks and engages in public debates on sustainable careers and lifestyles, for example through her blog theoptingoutblog.com.