Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Family Roles and Work Values: Processes of Selection and Change

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Family Roles and Work Values: Processes of Selection and Change

Article excerpt

This study focuses on whether marriage and parenthood influence work values after taking into account the influence of work values on family formation. In a recent panel of young adults (N = 709), stronger extrinsic and weaker intrinsic work values during adolescence predicted marriage and parenthood 9 years out of high school. Controlling these relationships, wives, but not husbands, came to attach less importance to extrinsic rewards, and both husbands and wives attached less importance to intrinsic rewards, compared to single men and women. Fathers came to place greater importance on extrinsic rewards than men who had not become parents. The effect of motherhood on extrinsic values depended upon marital status, with positive effects only evident among single mothers. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for models of work-family relationships and understanding the meaning of contemporary family roles, especially motherhood and fatherhood.

Key Words: marriage, parenthood, work attitudes, work values.

Although it is generally recognized that work-family relationships are bidirectional, the vast majority of studies in this area focus on how the structure and conditions of work shape family life (Perry-Jenkins, Repetti, & Crouter, 2000; Rogers & May, 2003). In a recent review of the work-family literature, Perry-Jenkins et al. document the extensive literature on how employment experiences shape family processes, including parenting. Within this stream of research has been a strong tradition concerned with how occupational conditions shape workers' job-related values that in turn influence values and behaviors off the job, including those that are family related (Klute, Crouter, Sayer, & McHale, 2002; Kohn, 1969; Kohn & Schooler, 1983). As is true of other areas of work-family research, little consideration has been given to reciprocal processes, including how family roles and behaviors may shape workers' values and other beliefs that have behavioral and attainment implications in the workplace.

In this study I examine whether family roles shape work orientations, specifically whether marriage and parenthood influence a type of work orientation known as work values. Work values are beliefs about the desirability of various work features and are usually denned by referencing potential rewards derived from working (e.g., pay, prestige, opportunities to learn). Most research on work values has differentiated values with reference to two broad types of rewards derived from working. Intrinsic rewards of work refer to gratifications derived from the work tasks themselves (e.g., interest, challenge, responsibility); extrinsic rewards are obtained from the job but are external to the task experience (e.g., pay, security, and prestige). Extrinsic rewards are sometimes characterized as instrumental-the means to achieve nonwork goals. Extrinsic and intrinsic values are not opposite ends of a continuum but rather two dimensions of work values that are usually somewhat positively correlated in empirical studies. Scholars of work and occupations are interested in work values largely because of their role in occupational choice and attainment (Judge & Bretz, 1992; Mortimer & Lorence, 1979) as well as job satisfaction (Kalleberg, 1977).

Work values are linked to family roles, but the nature of the link is not yet well understood. Cross-sectional studies have documented that marriage and parenthood are associated with greater worker emphasis on extrinsic rewards, such as pay, benefits, and job stability, but not intrinsic rewards, such as having interesting, challenging, or variability in work tasks (Gorman, 2000; Loscocco, 1989; Loscocco & Kalleberg, 1988). Such relationships between family roles and work values have been attributed to a process whereby entry into marriage or parenthood changes individuals' work values, yet many prior studies are limited in their actual capacity to address this issue. …

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