‘My dad hangs out of helicopter doors and takes pictures of oil platforms’: Children’s accounts of parental work in the oil and gas industry

Natasha S. Mauthner, Catherine Maclean, Lorna McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Against the backdrop of the acceleration in pace of work and family life over the last decade, and the accompanying intensification of the work-family debate, this paper argues for the need to include children as stakeholders in the work-family debate. The ethnographic study on which this paper is based brings together children, family, work and community to explore interrelationships between workplace change, parental employment and family life in the oil and gas industry in Scotland. This paper focuses specifically on children's accounts of parental work and the work-family interface. Children, aged 8-12, were seen in schools and at home. Eight focus groups were conducted in two primary schools with 33 children. Nineteen of the families of these children participated in follow-up home interviews, in which 21 focus group children and a further 21 children (siblings, cousins and friends) were seen at home. Multiple methods were used: pictures and photographs of 'work', drawings, a poem, vignettes, word games, and a 'life mode technique'. The paper discusses children's concepts of 'work'; children's knowledge of parental work and the oil industry; children's perceptions of the impact of work on their parents; children's accounts of the effects of parental work on them and the importance of 'family time'; children's own work aspirations; and children's views and values about involvement, communication and decision making regarding parental work. Similarities and differences between children's accounts are highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-162
Number of pages30
JournalCommunity, Work and Family
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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