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Participation in Household Work: Collaboration, Conflict, and Socialization in Working Family Interactions

Wendy Klein

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 11


The growing number of dual-earner families in recent decades has lead to new configurations of domestic work distribution among family members in the home. While most investigations of this topic have focused on the division of labor between spouses and domestic partners, childrenís roles and responsibilities in household work is becoming a significant research interest in work-family research. The investigation of how families construct ideologies of work in households requires the analysis of language and communicative behavior in domestic activities. This preliminary analysis of data collected for a pilot study conducted by the UCLA Sloan Center on the Everyday Lives of Families draws from language socialization theory and conversation and discourse analytic methods to illuminate the ideologies of participation in household work that emerge in family interactions. Through the negotiation of domestic tasks families develop moral and economic understandings of individual and joint domestic responsibilities. The collaborative activities between siblings requires one sibling to mentor the other and offers an opportunity for peer learning, while a fatherís conflict with his daughter over her refusal to carry out a chore ends in a mutual understanding of the distribution of resources within the household economy. Socialization into working relationships occurs through everyday family interactions in which childrenís participation contributes to the well-being of the family.

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