This chapter sketches the intellectual history and development of the life-course perspective, delineates mechanisms that produce work-family conflicts, and describes possible consequences of this conflict for employees and families. The concepts that are introduced can help to identify potentially "toxic" psychosocial work environments, highlight the absence of institutionalized arrangements designed to minimize work-life conflicts, and document the strategic role and relationship selections workers and families make as they seek to gain or retain a sense of control over their lives and to promote both personal and family well-being. There are six concepts that are crucial to understand the work-family interface as an ecologically embedded and gendered process. It draws on these concepts-time convoys, structural lag, life-course fit, cycles of control, adaptive strategies, and converging divergences-to develop a dynamic ecology of the gendered life-course framework that links work-family conflict, "fit," and control to individual and family health and well-being. This involves understanding individuals' life histories and how the timing of life events affects the decisions that individuals make about the structure of their work and family lives. This chapter explains how the timing, duration, and sequencing of life events in the work and family domains over time can result in temporal fit or misfit between the domains that will affect well-being.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was conducted as part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's work-family initiative, led by Kathleen Christensen, providing support for Noelle Chesley's postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota. Additional support was provided by the Work, Family, and Health Network, which is funded by a cooperative agreement through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant # U01HD051217, U01HD051218, U01HD051256, U01HD051276), National Institute on Aging (Grant # U01AG027669), Office of Behavioral and Science Sciences Research, and National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Grant # U010H008788). The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of these institutes and offices. We are grateful to Jane Peterson for all the bibliographic and editing assistance she provided.