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Center to study middle-class families
Researchers will study 30 households over a three-year period
The middle-class, dual-income family will be the focus of the new UCLA Center on Everyday Lives of Families, funded by a $3.6 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

CELF, which will house data collected from 30 families over a three-year period, seeks to document how daily household activities keep a middle-class, dual-income family thriving and growing, said Tami Kremer-Sadlik, director of research for the new center.

According to Kremer-Sadlik, researchers from disciplines in anthropology, psychology, linguistics and education will be at the core of the center's development.

"We want to capture a rich enough record so that people from many different disciplines can garner profound meaning from the material and do so for many generations to come," Elinor Ochs, an anthropology and applied linguistics professor and leader of the center's nine-member team, said in a statement.

The project is awaiting approval from the university's Office for Protection of Research Subjects, but the team plans to begin recruiting families this fall.

To be eligible for the study, families must be comprised of two or three children, with one between eight and 10 years of age. The family must own its own home, and both parents must work at least 30 hours per week outside the house.

Because of existing debates among social scientists over criteria used to classify the middle class, the CELF team has agreed to allow families to determine their own status. The families may base the status on educational, financial or geographical background.

Researchers will analyze consequences of the shift in division of labor within the home over the past 50 years, as more women entered the workforce and families balanced work with home life, Kremer-Sadlik said.

The research will entail filming the daily activities of families in West Los Angeles, an area which includes Palms, Culver City and Santa Monica.

Researchers plan to fill 1,080 digital cassettes and 3,000 CD-ROMs with 800 hours of what they call "the drama of the working family."

Points of interest for research include health, education, language, marital relations, child development and the utilization of space to bring together or keep apart people, Kremer-Sadlik said.

Although the tendency of individuals to act unnaturally in front of a video camera may distort data, Kremer-Sadlik said people quickly become comfortable.

"The relationship (among family members) is still there," she said. "People do not reinvent new relationships with each other."

The project is a vision of the Sloan Foundation, a non-profit organization based in New York, which sponsors six university centers across the nation dedicated to similar research.

The center, based in Haines Hall, will be open to faculty members, graduate students and other authorized personnel after the data is collected. Restriction to the center ensures confidentiality of the families that volunteer for the research, Kremer-Sadlik said.

DAILY BRUIN ONLINE - Monday, August 20, 2001
By Trucmai Nguyen
Daily Bruin Contributor

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