African American Family Life: Ecological and Cultural Diversity

By Vonnie C. McLoyd; Nancy E. Hill et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 7
Work and African
American Family Life

Vonnie C. McLoyd
and Noemí Enchautegui-de-Jesús

Questions about linkages between work and African American family life have commanded little scholarly attention since the late 1970s and early 1980s, a period that witnessed a burgeoning of research on this topic (McLoyd, 1993). This trend is perplexing, given the recent growth in research studies on the family lives of African Americans generally (Burton & Jarrett, 2000; McLoyd, Cauce, Takeuchi, & Wilson, 2000; Taylor, Jackson, & Chatters, 1997), the continued prominence of paid employment in the lives of African American women, and the large share of time that work consumes relative to other activities. Enriching our understanding of how employment-related issues influence core aspects of African American family functioning requires a reinvigoration of this area of study. Along with theory-guided, basic research on this topic, there is a pressing need for careful explication of the implications of research findings for practice and policy, and for systematic research assessing how social policies influence the work–family nexus. Efforts to promote the well-being of African American families deserve the benefit of knowledge generated by social science. This is an especially opportune time to undertake such research because of the unprecedented wealth of data sets from nationally representative samples available for secondary data analyses—many of which are longitudinal and include an oversampling of African Americans—and because of recent advances in statistical procedures for analyzing family-level and longitudinal data.

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