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Abstract

Part-time professional employees represent an increasingly important social category that challenges traditional assumptions about the relationships between space, time, and professional work. In this article, we examine both the historical emergence of part-time professional work and the dynamics of its integration into contemporary organizations. Professional employment has historically been associated with being continuously available to one's organization, and contemporary professional jobs often bear the burden of that legacy as they are typically structured in ways that assume full-time (and greater) commitments of time to the organization. Because part-time status directly confronts that tradition, professionals wishing to work part-time may face potentially resistant work cultures. The heterogeneity of contemporary work cultures and tasks, however, presents a wide variety of levels and forms of resistance to part-time professionals. In this paper, we develop a theoretical model that identifies characteristics of local work contexts that lead to the acceptance or marginalization of part-time professionals. Specifically, we focus on the relationship between a work culture's dominant interaction rituals and their effects on co-workers' and managers' reactions to part-time professionals. We then go on to examine the likely responses of part-time professionals to marginalization, based on their access to organizational resources and their motivation to engage in strategies that challenge the status quo. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.