Self made women, agency and work commitment

Fiona Scheibl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of work commitment has been confronted by two major impediments. First, a basic problem, is the absence of a shared definition of commitment, a state of affairs that lends support to the view that commitment is a multiple and complex phenomenon. Secondly, most established theoretical frameworks have assumed that commitment to paid work is determined either by an individual's prior life goal or organisational reward structures such as wages and status. The oscillation of the debate has meant that our understanding of the phenomenon is inconclusive. In an effort to move the debate forward this paper develops a theoretical account which conceptualises commitment as a structural mechanism that explains situations where an agent's past and present activity in a social organisation has, in effect constrained their future activity. The paper links these ideas with recent feminist accounts which show that organisations are gendered social structures that have a tendency to reproduce gendered definitions of commitment. The paper concludes that these gendered definitions of commitment constrain women's life-style choices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-132
Number of pages16
JournalCommunity, Work & Family
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1999

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