Bryson, Valerie and Deery, Ruth (2008) Public policy, power and time: a case study of community-based midwives in the NHS. In: University of Huddersfield Research Festival 2008, 25 Feb-13 March 2008, Huddersfield. (Unpublished)

This paper tests some theoretical claims about the gendered experience of time against a case-study of community based midwives in the NHS. Its starting-point is four linked claims: that, because they play different social roles, women and men generally relate to time in different ways; that in contemporary society ‘men’s time’ (linear, quantitative, commodified, abstract, clock time) is generally prioritised over ‘women’s time’ (cyclical, qualitative, relational, natural, process, task-oriented time); that recent market-driven public sector reforms have increased the marginalisation of ‘women’s time’; and that this is having detrimental social effects.

These claims lead to two key expectations: that midwives experience a particularly clear clash between hegemonic ‘men’s time’ and the time needs of women, and that the ‘time is money’ rationality of recent public sector reforms has increased temporal pressures on them. The case study confirms the first expectation. However, it finds that recent policy developments are having mixed effects, with some women-friendly changes at the level of rhetoric countered by the detrimental effects of recent NHS reforms that consolidate the inappropriate hegemony of clock time.

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