An Organizational Communication Challenge to the Discourse of Work and Family Research: From Problematics to Empowerment

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Using a discourse perspective, we articulate four problematics, (a) boundaries, (b) identity, (c) rationality, and (d) voice that underlie work-family theory, research, and practice. We situate existing interdisciplinary research within each problematic, showing how such research examines outcomes and effects rather than the process of constructing such outcomes. We supplement these studies with emerging communication research to illustrate new ways of thinking about each problematic. We highlight the role of daily microlevel discourses as well as macrodiscourses of organizations and families in creating the current processes, structures, and relationships surrounding work and family. We link each problematic with an agenda for empowerment through (a) questioning boundaries, (b) integrating identity, (c) embracing practical knowledge and emotionality, (d) seeking diverse voices, and (e) developing a communal orientation.

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Annals of the International Communication Association, v. 27, issue 1, p. 1-43