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Work and Family - Future Directions

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Themes that emerged from the work and family literature of the 1990s were maternal employment, work socialization, work stress, and multiple roles (Perry-Jenkins, Repetti, and Crouter 2000). New terminology that was introduced into our language since the 1960s includes Mommy track, glass ceiling, second shift, and third shift. We have also seen a rise in part-time and contingent work as well as individuals choosing home-based employment.

Possible directions for work and family research in the future are (1) issues of definition and meaning regarding the terms of "work" and "family"; (2) a need for more cross-cultural and comparative studies; (3) an examination of our theoretical research models: are they universal or are they only applicable in certain contexts?; (4) a need to build better measures of family processes, family relationships, and employed adults' interpretations and constructions of their work and family roles into studies of occupational conditions; (5) research that investigates the role of children; and (6) use of experimental research designs (Perry-Jenkins, Repetti, and Crouter 2000). Other emerging issues include the psychological consequences of job insecurity, the acceptance or rejection of long work hours and the polarization of work rich and work poor, blurred work-family boundaries, and the impact of the changing nature of work on gender equality (Lewis and Cooper 1999).

Work and family connections are complex and change in both expected and unexpected ways over the life course, adapting to cultural and societal developments. It is imperative that future research continue to reflect the complexities of the nature of this relationship for men, women and children.


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