Work and Family in the United States

Work and Family in the United States: A Critical Review and Agenda for Research and Policy

Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Copyright Date: 1977
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 120
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  • Book Info
    Work and Family in the United States
    Book Description:

    Now considered a classic in the field, this book first called attention to what Kanter has referred to as the "myth of separate worlds." Rosabeth Moss Kanter was one of the first to argue that the assumes separation between work and family was a myth and that research must explore the linkages between these two roles.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-326-5
    Subjects: Business, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[ii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [iii]-[iv])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    This report explores the development of a social science frontier: theory, research, and policy concerning the dynamic intersections of work and family systems in contemporary American society. The impetus for effort on work-family interactions comes from several sources. In their concern for the increased well-being of citizens, national policy makers have recently focused attention on the impact of the structure and availability of work for the quality of life (see O’Toole, 1974). At the same time, Walter Mondale in the Senate, and others have turned attention to dilemmas and changes in family structure, arguing for the creation of a national...

  4. How the Gap Grew: Some Historical and Sociological Speculations
    (pp. 7-22)

    Contemporary social scientists tend to agree: a strong link exists between economic variables and family life. Critical to the traditional sociological definition of the modern family is the family’s “loss” of productive functions with the Industrial Revolution, but its continued economic importance as a consumption unit. Consumption in a monetized economy requires money income, so that the patterns families establish are closely tied to the financial conditions of earners, traditionally viewed in terms of the occupational prospects of husband-fathers.

    Consumption style and the prestige accorded to families in their community (termedstatusby Max Weber and assumed to devolve on...

  5. The Dominant Influences: Effects of the Structure of Occupations and the Organization of Work on Family Life
    (pp. 23-52)

    The organization of work and the worker’s position within it can have a variety of effects on family life. It is not occupational category and “class” level alone (or perhaps even primarily) that shape work-family interaction but rather a variety of issues stemming from the occupational milieu, the nature of the setting in which work occurs, and the location of work in organizational structures. The evidence reviewed on the following pages suggests the importance of taking a closer look at the occupational-organizational world than is usually done in stratification research in order to define more appropriate distinctions between types of...

  6. “The Family Fights Back”: Family Influences on Working and the Work World
    (pp. 53-58)

    Most analyses of work and family in the modern American context have settled into a comfortable economic determinism—the centrality of work in setting the conditions for family life. No equally compelling and tested framework exists for reversing the relationship and looking at the effects of family patterns on work systems in American society. There are several ways, however, in which a reverse relationship may be suggested. All are subject to further investigation.

    First, cultural traditions carried by the family may be strong enough to shape family members’ decisions about their relation to work and to enable them to resist...

  7. Women’s Work and Family Relations
    (pp. 59-70)

    Most of the material reviewed thus far was really about men’s work, and most of it assumed that the man is the primary—or more likely the sole—breadwinner in the family. Some phenomena may be generalizable to women too: for example, the effects of occupational outlooks or emotional climate. However, women also have a variety of work roles assigned primarily to them, as a function of occupational segregation, and have traditionally at least (although changing rapidly) had an expected set of family responsibilities. Furthermore, the fact that women are also “workers” in families—whether paid or not—throws into...

  8. A Social-Psychological Perspective: Working and Loving as Processes
    (pp. 71-80)

    From a process-oriented perspective, it is possible to examine the degree ofconvergenceof work and family norms, rather than to continue to assume opposition and separation. The traditional Parsonian view of work-family separation held that universalistic, specific, emotionally neutral, and performance-oriented norms dominate the work world, whereas particularistic, diffuse, emotional, and quality- (or ascription) oriented norms dominate the family. Few people would accept this as a statement of anything more than the most ideal of types, for in the organizational world at least, a large body of research has been devoted to uncovering the particularistic, emotional, and ascriptive aspects...

  9. Work, Family, and Well-being: The Need to View Joint Needs
    (pp. 81-90)

    The consequences for personal well-being of variations in social situations deserve considerable attention, and much effort has been devoted to this topic. There is theory and research asserting that work is essential to well-being; a body of research points to the physical and mental health consequences of work situations. There is another growing body of work on psychopathology in the family and the family as the generating milieu of some forms of mental illness and adjustment difficulties. However, there has been remarkably little attempt to link the two, that is, to locate problems in the work-family intersection, to determine the...

  10. Research and Policy Agenda
    (pp. 91-98)

    A large number of research topics have been defined throughout this report. From a policy standpoint, some would appear to be more urgent than others. For example, there is already a large body of evidence linking low income and marginal labor force position to various indices of family “disruption.” Whatever one’s definition of “normal” family life and optimal individual development, it is at least clear that poor economic position places undue stress on personal relations. There would seem to be little need to further document this association. However, it would be valuable in an area, such as this, to specify...

  11. References
    (pp. 99-116)