Work and Family

Meshing the Worlds of Work and Family

A.  Women’s Employment 
The number of women in the workforce has increased from under 20% in 1940 to
58% in 1994.  Women are likely to work whether or not they marry, and even if
they have young children.  Over 50% of White, African American, and Latina
women are in the labor force.

     1.  Causes of Increased Labor Force Participation.

          a.  Changes in the Economy
          The influx of women into the labor force is a direct consequence of the
          expansion of the service sector of the economy.  Since 1980, women
          have taken 80% of the new jobs created in the economy.

          b.  Decline in Real Earnings
          Because earnings have declined over the past two decades, the
          economic needs of families have led to women’s labor force

          c.  Personal Fulfillment
          Women find that work outside the home gives them worth, identity,
          and a measure of economic independence.

          d.  Problems of Women Workers
          Women’s labor force participation is often restricted by poor labor
          market conditions and lack of child care.

B.  Men’s Employment
men’s labor force participation rate has declined from 83% in 1960 to 76% in
     1.  Causes of Decreased Labor Force Participation
     Structural change has eliminated manufacturing jobs that historically have
     been held predominantly by men.  The wives of these displaced workers
     have found employment in the expanding service sector.
          a.  Changes in the Economy 
          Employment available to young men has been in the service sector
          where jobs generally offer low pay, few benefits, and little
          b.  Decline in Real Wages
          Shrinking wages have led to the decline of the “good provider” role for
C.  children’s Employment
The rise of a service economy, with its part-time “off”-hours employment,
has produced a new demand for adolescent workers.  These workers are
likely to be White, middle-class, and suburban.  Earnings are usually spent
on personal discretionary items rather than pooled with family resources.

The worlds of work and family overlap and interact.  Work and family linkages vary
based on the structural characteristics of each.  Variance is also created through class,
race, and gender stratification systems.

A.  Gender Inequality
Both structural and cultural forces keep work and family roles strongly gendered. 
Men’s paid employment is taken for granted but women’s paid employment is
often viewed as problematic.  The uneven relationships of men and women to
work and family is conceptualized as the “work-family role system.” Within this
system, the traditional public and private division of labor is supported, and it is
more difficult for women to fulfill career demands than men.

B.  Work Roles - Family life is directly affected by two aspects of work:  level of
compensation ad conditions associated with performing a job.
     1.  Increased Work Time
     Work hours have risen for the majority of U.S.. workers.  Men and women
     of every marital status and income group are affected.

     2.  Timing and Scheduling of Work
     Work timing affects the rhythm and quality of daily life.  Family
     organizational patterns are influenced by such things as work-related travel
     and the degree of flexibility in the scheduling of work.  Increasing demand
     for shift work means more families experience an additional obstacle to
     shared family activities.

     3.  Geographic Mobility
     Both work-related and job-related moves are common.  Moves may be
     necessitated either to find work or to advance within a particular
     corporation.  Corporations generally expect that the employee will move as
     the employer dictates.  Despite the family stress moving generates, families
     survive the traumas of moving quite well.

     4.  Type of Work
     Different kinds of work have different consequences for families. 
     Employment is the major source of economic and social well-being.
          a.  White Collar and Professional
          Occupational prestige and income generally increase marital stability
          and marital satisfaction.
          b.  Blue Collar
          Studies of the working class find that poor working conditions and job
          insecurity engender poor self esteem and resentment.  These feelings
          negatively affect family relationships in the working class.
          c.  Professional satisfaction from Work
          In general, the higher the prestige and income received from a job, the
          greater the importance of work to an individual’s well-being.  But
          saying that only blue-collar work produces negative carryover is an
          oversimplification.  Individuals in a wide variety of occupations bring
          home the negative emotional dynamics generated at work.

C.  Family Characteristics - Such family characteristics as employment status of workers
and number, age and sex of children shape the work/family interface.

     1.  Dual-Worker Families:  The Dominant Pattern
           a.  costs and benefits of having both spouses in the labor force
           The benefits of combinin work and family roles for women lie primarily in
           the enhancement of self-esteem.  The chief negative consequence is marital
           stress, but overall, women who work exhibit better health and well-being
           than full-time homemakers.

           b.  Mothers’ Employment and Children
           Research evidence refutes the conventional evidence that children (and
           especially young children) of employed mothers are adversely affected.
           c.  Work and Family Priorities Among Different Categories of Women
           Class and race differences bring different linkages to work and family.  If
           working-class wives are characterized as less dedicated to their work, they
           must be seen in the context of the type of work they do.  
     2.  The Wife as Sole Provider
     Ill health or unemployment of a spouse often place a wife in the provider role.  In
     addition, some women continue to work after their husbands retire or are
     (occasionally) in marriages with house husbands.  Cultural prescription and
     women’s typically low wages create barriers to role reversal.  

     3.  Single-Parent Families
     Almost one-fourth of the U.S. households with children are maintained by a single parent. 
     For these households the demands of employment add to the difficulties of solo parenting.

Practice Exam Questions

According to the text, dual earner families
     a.  outnumber families in which only the husband is employed two to one.
     b.  are likely to ave no pre-school age children.
     c.  comprise less than 10% of the U.S. families.
     d.  usually divide household labor evenly between spouses.

Which of the following describes trends in U.S. labor force participation by gender?
     a.  Women's labor force participation has incresed, while men's has decreased.
     b.  Women's laborforce participation has incresed, while men's has held steady.
     c.  Both women's and men's labor force participation has incresed.
     d.  Women's labor force participation has begun to drop, while men's is increasing.

The participation of adolescents in the U.S. labor force
     a.  is typically a White, middle-class, suburban phenomenon.
     b.  has been encouraged by the creation of "bad" jobs in the service sector.
     c.  often provides a level of discretionary income that canot be maintained during
     d.  all of the above.

According to Gearson's researchon contemporary men,
     a.  most men are "autonomous men."
     b.  "breadwinners" are no longer able to focus primarily on their careers.
     c.  men could move from one category to another over their lifetimes.
     d. "involved men" eventually come to deeply regret the sacrifices they make.

The Hertz and Charlton study of Air Force security guards and their wives found that 
     a.  wives do "adjustment work" to create as "normal" a family life as possible.
     b.  wives of shift workers spend significantly more time in meal preparation than day-shift wives.
     c.  wives accommodate the timing of family events to fit their husbands' schedules.
     d.  all of the above.

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