Card image cap
Card image cap

Analysis of the Articulation of Life Times Within the Medical Profession in France: Revealing or Magnifying Mirror of Sexual Specificities?

Nicky Le Feuvre, Nathalie Lapeyre

This article explores some of the analytical issues that arise when researching the use of time with respect to the work-life balance sought by a specific occupational group: French doctors. Characterized by extremely long hours, the French medical profession also offers a high level of “temporal sovereignty”. Although the professional ethos of doctors has been historically based on a principal of “total availability” for work, several factors have led to the partial erosion of this cornerstone of the doctor’s professional identity, particularly amongst the younger generations of both male and female physicians. However, from a gender perspective, this shift is not necessarily expressed in the same way: the female doctors interviewed tended to spontaneously evoke their desire to enjoy a better “balance” between work and family life, whereas the male doctors were more likely to stress their quest for personal well-being, through individual leisure time. It remains to be seen whether such a discursive gap does indeed bear witness to the existence of distinct gender-influenced practices or whether they simply translate an adjustment of the way doctors adapt their accounts of time use to the normative pressures that continue to define the social acceptability of male and female practices (and aspirations) with regard to a balance between work and life.