A Historical Framework for Understanding the Incongruence Between Work-Family Role Practices and Beliefs in American Society


Kellyann Berube Kowalski

Department of Management and Marketing

Charlton College of Business

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth


Jennifer A. Swanson

Department of Business Administration

Stonehill College


Laura Lynn Beauvais

Provostís Office

University of Rhode Island


This paper introduces a historical model of the relationship between work and family. The model summarizes the movement through three eras of production which resulted in different role relationships between work and family: (1) role solidarity of the pre-industrial era, (2) role segmentation of the industrial era, and (3) role overlap of the post-industrial era. The model shows that the public/private ideology associated with the role segmentation of the industrial era stands strong in the post-industrial era. It is argued that the incongruence of the public/private ideology and the role overlap of the post-industrial era has contributed to work/family conflict.  Implications for management and future research are discussed.