Work-Family Blurring, Definition(s) of

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"The experience of confusion or difficulty in distinguishing one's work from one's family roles in a given setting which these roles are seen as highly integrated, such as doing paid work at home." (Desrochres & Sargent).

The definition provided in this entry is based on Ashforth, Kreiner and Fugate's (2000) discussion of the integration, segmentation and role boundaries. Although they do not explicitly define work-family blurring, they do state that highly flexible and permeable boundaries (that is, highly integrated role sets) "might exacerbate [role] conflict by creating confusion among the individual and members of his or her role sets as to which role is or should be most salient" (p. 475). They also state that: "the primary benefit of segmentation is that it reduces the blurring between roles, thus clarifying the nature of the transition [from one role to the next]" (p. 477, emphasis theirs) and that "the primary cost [of integrated role sets] is that role blurring is far greater [than with segmented role sets]" (p. 480). Finally, they suggest that working at home is an example of a highly integrated role set. (Desrochers).

Glossary Source: 

Desrochers S. & Sargent, L. (2003, September 09). Boundary/Border Theory and Work-Family Integration, A Sloan Work and Family Encyclopedia Entry. Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.

Desrochers, S. (2002). Measuring work-family boundary ambiguity: A proposed scale. Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center Working Paper #02-04.

As defined by Desrochers citing Ashforth, Kreiner & Fugate:

Ashforth, B. E., Kreiner, G. E., & Fugate, M. (2000). All in a day's work: Boundaries and micro role transitions. Academy of Management Review, 25(3), 472-491.