Shared Identity & Work-life Roles: A Study of Dual Career Couples.

AuthorKothari, Tanvi Paras


Globalization and urbanization were the forces which pushed entry of women in the paid workforce. Changing mindsets of women who do not want to be 'just housewives' but have career aspirations. This results in the redistribution of work and family roles among working couples. Indian values have an idealized demarcation of domain--men negotiated the colonial world, whereas women were seen as a custodian of the moral values at home (Mani, 1989). The entrance of women in the workforce has challenged this value system. Besides the increased education level of women resulted in a significant increase in conjugal role pattern (Conklin, 1973).

From the sociological point of view, responsibilities of men and women have changed at home and workplaces, which have redefined the family roles (Budworth et. al., 2008). The traditional view of roles has changed to more egalitarian viewpoints, resulting in equal haring of home and work responsibilities (Bamett & Hyde, 2001). Entry of women in paid workforce did not free her from unpaid work responsibilities, resulting in a higher level of stress among women (HREOC, 2007). This gender defined attitude for role, hindered the idea of gender egalitarianism within Indian society. This situation indicated that there is an urge to develop understanding among couples especially for their identities.

Shared identity is the construct which was extensively studied among groups and teams. In the literature of groups and teams, it has been considered the main factor, which allowed individuals to act in their collective best interest especially in social dilemmas (Kollock, 1998). Budworth et. al. (2008) initiated to conceptualize the shared identity of dual career couples (DCC). They defined it as a partner involved in a common understanding of roles and corresponding behavior. Couple identity is a partner's sense of who they were as a unit and the extent to which a person views oneself as part of a couple and considered an important part of the self (Miller & Caughlin, 2013).

In India, family is considered as an important arrangement of the society and marriages are having special place in the Indian culture, which makes this relationship more precious. It urges to study this relationship development of a couple as a unit. Hence, this study is focused on the presence of shared identity and its association with various work and life roles for DCC.

Dual Career Couples (DCC)

In the late sixties, Rapoport and Rapoport (1969) introduced the term DCC. Both the heads of households had active careers and family lives in this type of structure. Dual-earner families were defined as "those in which both husband and wife are simultaneously employed in full time paid jobs outside their home. The jobs may be professional or non-professional and may vary with respect to their social prestige but they were generally undertaken due to mounting economic pressure rather than choice alone", whereas in "dual-career families women were in a professional job requiring professional education and high work commitment that is undertaken not merely due to economic necessity but also for personal fulfillment" (Bharat, 1995).

Division of Household Work

Despite the entry of women in the workforce cultural tradition and family role structure had not changed significantly. Women were responsible for day to day family tasks, for example, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and caring children and elder relatives (Sayer et al., 2009). Women participation in the workforce lead to progress, however it additionally made her work and render family life increasingly troublesome (Voydanoff, 2005).

Notwithstanding when both the partners worked on all the days, women kept on performing over twice as a great part of the unpaid family unit work as men (Baxter et al., 2005). There was a significant observational proof that, in DCC, women assumed more responsibility for domestic work in the family compared to their counterpart men (Daly et al., 2008). An Indian study by Ramu (1987) found that employment of wife would not have noteworthy impact. Her spouse plays out his local j ob in light of the fact that the two life partners keep on being affected by conventional job duties and commitments. Men's workforce support was moderately steady over their life course, though mothers to a great extent pulled back from the professional work especially when they had young children (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006). Study of Stertz et. al. (2017) found that both partners' working hours involvement and duration of leave were associated with their attitude. For example, father's having egalitarian attitude decreased their working hours. It also affected the work decision of partner as such partner (mother) took shorter leaves and decreased their working hours, whereas mothers' attitude did not influence their husbands' behavior. Hence, women's work involvement decision was dependent on men's attitude for their gender-role after childbirth.

Seagar (2005) examined that in the US, women spent a normal of 27 hours out of every week on household activities contrasted with men who spent just 16 hours each week for the equivalent.

In the UK, women spent 10 hours more on household activities than men, whereas in Sweden, men spent an hour less than women on household activities (Evertsson, 2006). Shockley and Allen (2018) studied that dual-earner couples' well-being is linked to their transition to parenthood especially for unequal division of paid and unpaid labor.

Role Strain & Role Stress

Women experienced high level of role overload and role stress/strain compared to their men counterparts. Despite their presence in the workforce, their home responsibilities had not been decreased. Studies on dual career families center around the job of a female as a mother in reference to her new role as co-worker which either encourage or impeded her new role (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1982). Research by Stanfield (1985) investigated that demands of two jobs- spouse/mother and professional-can expose her to strain. The simultaneous roles demand to set priorities.

Hall and Hall (1980) found that stress among DCC was a result of role- overload, conflict and change. Women were often kept aside from taking an interest in significant authoritative exercises that were basis for promotions (Falkernberg & Monachello, 2007). In DCC, especially the females attempted to adjust the demands of two jobs: profession and family. Hall (1975) found that the nature of expectation from spouse and mother was affected due to her working outside the home.

Indian Studies

Changing demographics of the workforce also increased the interest of researchers to widen the avenues of work and family related research in India. In the late nineties, comparative studies between dual-earner families...

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