Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Work, Family, and Gender: Elements for a Theory of Work-Family Balance

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Work, Family, and Gender: Elements for a Theory of Work-Family Balance

Article excerpt

Over last century, work was not only a means of economic survival, but also a very strong factor of psychological structuring and of organization of personal, family, and everyday life. The new world of work provides new challenges to the balance of work and family life. A questionnaire was administered to a sample of 453 people with the aim of analyzing the relation between variables such as family burdens and domestic responsibilities, and the appraisal of work and family, values involved in work-family balance. The results of this study show that, in the present economic and cultural context, assuming family burdens and domestic responsibilities increases the positive appraisal of work and family, both in men and women. This has theoretical and practical implications concerning the challenge of work-family balance.

Keywords: balance, work, family, gender.

A lo largo del último siglo, el trabajar ha funcionado no sólo como un medio de obtención de sustento material, sino también como un importante factor de estructuración psicológica y de organización de la vida personal, familiar y cotidiana. El nuevo entorno del trabajo plantea nuevos desafíos para la conciliación de la vida laboral y la familiar. Se aplicó un cuestionario a una muestra de 453 personas con el objetivo de analizar la relación de variables como las cargas familiares y las responsabilidades domésticas con la valoración del trabajo y de la familia, valores a su vez implicados en la conciliación de la vida laboral con la vida familiar. Los resultados del estudio muestran que, en el presente contexto económico y cultural, la asunción de cargas familiares y de responsabilidades domésticas aumenta al tiempo la valoración de la familia y del trabajo, tanto en hombres como en mujeres; lo cual tiene implicaciones teóricas y prácticas en lo que concierne al desafío de la conciliación trabajo-familia.

Palabras clave: conciliación, trabajo, familia, género.

Throughout industrial modernness, work has acted not only as a means of material support, but also as a powerful psychological structuring factor, both in the individual sphere and in the family, providing salary, identity, certainty, and security (Álvaro, 1992; Blanch, 1990; Jahoda, 1982; Peiró & Prieto, 1996; Warr, 1987).

During the classic Fordian phase of the 20th century, the traditional sexual division of work is reinforced. This division assigns the role of economic provider of the family and the social function of producer to the male, and he is supposed to develop this function in the public sphere of employment, accepting remunerated work as a vital central role (MOW, 1987, 1991; Salanova, Gracia, & Peiró, 1996). In contrast, the task of reproduction is assigned almost exclusively to the female, as the family caregiver, thus restricting her area of social action to the private world of domesticity (Carrasco, 1991; Dex, 1988; Durán, 1988, 2006; Eagly, 1987; Grossman & Chester, 1990). This pronounced social division of roles does not usually generate special problems of work-family balance, because it leads the males to assume, almost exclusively, the social responsibility of the breadwinner, and the females to "take care of the nest."

In this scenario, there is relative consensus about the theories that defend that caring for the family and housework lead to reinforcement of gender role. This explains some empirically confirmed differences between men and women in the meaning of work, work behavior, choice of career, and work insertion itineraries (Austin, 1984; Casal, Masjuan, & Planas, 1989; Gerson, 1985; Grossman & Chester, 1990; MOW, 1987), and also in the degree of the psychological impact of unemployment (Banks, 1989; Blanch, 1990; Eisenberg & Lazarsfeld, 1938; Fryer & Payne, 1986; Fryer & Ullah, 1987; hayes & Nutman, 1981; Kelvin & Jarrett, 1985). These differences are attributed to the buffering effect of the married woman's status (Warr & Parry, 1982) and, ultimately, to the differential socialization of gender, which leads men to seek fulfillment in work and women at home (Eagly, 1987). …

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