An integrative theory of the division of domestic labor: Threshold level, social organizing and sensemaking

Janet Alberts, Sarah Tracy, Angela Trethewey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

The distribution, negotiation and management of unpaid domestic labor are issues that are inextricably linked to the well-being of families, relationships, and our very selves. For example, disputes and arguments about chores rate amongst the most common and destructive in terms of relational conflict. Several theories have been developed to explain the division of household labor, but scholars have yet to be successful in explaining persistent differences in husbands' and wives' domestic contributions. As a step toward doing so, here we provide an integrative theory that builds upon singular explanations such as gender display and evolutionary/biosocial differences. In this paper, we incorporate these theories, introduce the importance of threshold level, and integrate concepts derived from self-organizing systems theory, the economy of gratitude, and individual, dyadic and social sensemaking processes. Together, these provide an integrated theory well suited to explore how couples' communicative practices both create and can ameliorate inequities in the division of domestic labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-38
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family Communication
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication

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