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Conceptualizing Work, Family and Community: A Socio-Ecological Systems Model, Taking Account of Power, Time, Space and Life Stage


  • Barbara Pocock, Philippa Williams and Natalie Skinner are at Centre for Work + Life, University of South Australia.


A large body of empirical research now exists about ‘work and family’, much of it in agreement on critical issues. However, it is under-conceptualized, it over-researches professional and managerial workers and it under-attends the larger terrain of work, family and community. This contribution argues the case for a stronger analytical framework around work, family and community and the ways in which they intersect, drawing on concepts commonly used in the field of employment relations. The article utilizes a body of empirical research about work, family and community in Australia to develop Voydanoff's ecological systems model of work, home and community, arguing that it is vital to unpack the ‘black box’ of ‘work’ in a multi-layered way, to give appropriate weight to various sources of power, and to avoid an individualistic approach to the reconciliation of work, home and community life by locating analysis in a larger social and political context. The contribution proposes a ‘socio-ecological systems’ model of work, home and community that delineates the four issues of power, time, space and life stage.