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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date

1993

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Rural Sociology

First Advisor

Ronald G. Stover

Abstract

An empirical test of hypotheses based on the expansion theory of human energy was conducted in an attempt to more fully explain the phenomenon of role strain between work and family roles in dual-earner families. The expansion theory of human energy promises to enrich sociologists' understanding of the problem of role strain between work and family roles for it appears able to explain both the presence and absence of role strain. The scarcity theory of human energy currently the dominant theory on the topic - assumes that role strain between work and family roles is inevitable due to a scarcity of time and energy for the performance of all of an individual's roles. The expansion theory of human energy, on the other hand, hypothesizes that role strain between work and family roles is dependent upon the level of commitment to those roles. It argues that individuals who are highly committed to all their roles will not experience role strain. The expansion theory hypothesizes that only those individuals involved in a system of over- and under-commitments to their work and family roles will report role strain. In general, hypotheses derived from the expansion theory were supported by the data. However, not all tests of individuals involved in systems of over- and under-commitments to work and family reported a relationship between their commitment pattern and role strain. Future researchers need to refine the expansion theory to reflect social norms for acceptable levels of commitment. Husbands accepting the high value Western society expects males to place on work, and wives accepting the high value Western society expects females to place on family were able to avoid role strain. In addition to testing the hypotheses derived from the expansion theory of human energy, this study investigated the consequences of studying role strain from the perspective of both the husband and wife as a unit, not as individual actors. The results suggest that the interaction of work and family roles upon the individuals and their families cannot be adequately understood unless the work of both the husband and wife are considered jointly.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dual-career families -- Time management
Work and family
Social role
Stress (Psychology)

Format

application/pdf

Publisher

South Dakota State University

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