Institutional perspectives on law, work, and family
Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 3: 397-426. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.lawsocsci.3.081806.112803
Work and family scholarship increasingly focuses on how institutions constrain the choices of families struggling to balance market work with care work. Recent legal reforms, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, also focus on institutional reform to alleviate work/family conflict. This article reviews important empirical questions raised by this institutional turn in both law and social science. How have changes in the institutions of family and work contributed to work/family conflict? Have legal reforms produced more egalitarian sharing of care work between men and women? How do work organizations respond to these legal mandates? How have organizational and cultural institutions hindered or given support to laws that attempt to reform the relationship between work and family? Empirical research indicates that legal reforms have brought about important changes but that entrenched work practices and cultural norms around work, family, and gender continue to generate institutional resistance to social change.