Traditional1 Ideologies, Nontraditional Lives2

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Abstract

This study examined how blue-collar couples who alternate work shifts and share the care of their children reconcile their traditional gender ideologies with their nontraditional lives. In-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-three alternating shift couples in which the husband was a blue-collar worker. Ninety-six per cent of the participants were White, and the remainder were Hispanic. The results suggested that despite their nontraditional behavior, these couples maintained traditional gender identities by adherence to three central beliefs about their families: 1) the father was still the breadwinner; 2) the mother only worked in the paid labor force because of financial pressures; and 3) the mother was still the central parent. The ways in which each of these myths is constructed, and the functions they serve of both maintaining traditional gender identity, and of obscuring potential conflicts between husbands and wives over identity are discussed.

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