Balancing two major parts of adult life experience: Work and family identity among dual-earner couples

Samuel Aryee*, Vivienne Luk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


As sources of meaning and identity, it has been suggested that research on work and family roles should focus on understanding the processes by which commitment to these roles is built and sustained (Bielby, 1992). Informed by this view, data obtained through structured questionnaires from dual-earner couples (N = 207) in Hong Kong were used to constructively replicate the work of Bielby and Bielby (1989). The thesis of this paper is that as individuals become involved in a role, they develop an identity attached to that role. Results of the regression analysis revealed support for the thesis but generally, in ways consistent with the prescribed roles of men and women in a gender-stratified social system. In addition, the results revealed that women balance their work and family identity by trading-off one for the other. In contrast, men are able to simultaneously identify with work and family roles. Limitations of the study, directions for future research, and implications of the findings for a balanced life are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-487
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

User-Defined Keywords

  • Balanced life
  • Dual-earner couples
  • Family identity
  • Retrospective rationality
  • Work identity
  • Work-family system


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