Advancing a career focus on work and the family: Insights from the life course perspective

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The life course perspective otTers much to benefit the efforts ofwork and family stakeholders, induding human resource personneI, policymakers, teachers, and researchers. Because the life course perspective locates work and family in time and in context, it brings to Iife the dynamics of “work” and “family” throughout adulthood, along with constraints that shape decisions of managing these affairs along the way. Thus, a life course approach encourages a focus on careers 190 SWEET AND MOEN or paths-work careers, family careers, and their complex inter/ocks throughout adulthood. Doing so orients thinking and research to the meclwllisms that shape careers, along with the cultural and structural arrangements that impede or promote effectiveness (at work, at home, and in achieving personal goals) for men and women at all li fe stages. The life course perspective offers a fresh way of framing research and policy questions, especially about the ways that multiple layers of (often conflicting) roles play out over time, the impacts of existing (often outdated) institutional arrangements, and how individuals and families strategically adapt to the challenges embedded in particular role constellations (Eider, 1985; Moen, 2003a; Moen & Wethington, 1992).

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The Work and Family Handbook: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives and Approaches

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