chapter  10
14 Pages

Role Theory Perspectives on Work and Family

The work-family conflict approach has its origins in studies of inter-role conflict (e.g., Kanter, 1977; Sarbin, 1954) and has as its guiding assumption that work and family are in basic conflict. Moreover, the focus on incompatible role demands is coupled with the notion that human energy is a fixed and limited quantity. This notion is often referred to as the scarcity hypothesis (Barnett, Marshall, & Singer, 1992; Marks, 1977; Sieber, 1974). Accordingly, the more roles a person-usually a woman-occupies, the greater the pressure on her energy and the more depleted her reserves. As a result, incumbents who occupy roles in multiple spheres experience tension and conflict, which, in turn, exacts a cost. In this tradition, the cost of multiple-role occupancy is most often assessed in tenns of such outcomes as psychological distress, decreased marital and job satisfaction, and such organizational outcomes as burnout and intention to leave one 's current job. The work-family conflict approach remains the dominant perspective in the work-family literature.