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Social Problems


Through 90 in-depth interviews with 44 rotating shiftworkers and their spouses, this study examines how couples adjust their routines in order to interact as a family unit. We suggest that their views of marital roles are a critical force shaping their practices of daily family life. Wives, even when employed, are responsible for coordinating the individual schedules of family members to match that of the shift-working husband. Wives pay a price for this adjustment work in the form of biological, and emotional symptoms similar to those previously reported only for shiftworkers. Despite their efforts to be providers, husbands pay a price in terms of guilt and anger when work demands limit their ability to fully participate in family life. Further, dual-earner couples rely on husbands ("father care") and informal arrangements to cover child care for economical and social reasons, not simply to provide husbands with an opportunity to interact with children. Yet, despite higher levels of father care, traditional gender roles have not been altered in that working wives still retain primary responsibility for children.


This work is freely available courtesy of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and University of California Press.
Reprinted: 1994. In The Psychological Interior of the Family, edited by G. Handel and G.G. Whitchurch. 4th ed. New York: de Gruyter.

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