Marital interaction and coping when middle-aged, white-collar husbands are downsized: An ethnographic study of wives' experiences




Carraway, Vivian Lorraine Graham

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The purpose of this research was to describe the experiences of wives whose white-collar husbands had been downsized in middle-age. The study employed ethnographic techniques, interviews with wives, to learn about their perceptions of change in the marriage subsequent to downsizing. It also sought to describe any practical and/or psychological techniques by which wives coped during the unemployment period.

Wives responded to open-ended questions read from an ethnographic interview form. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed, and analyzed for common themes, using qualitative methodology. A pilot study of 2 wives was conducted to determine the efficacy of the research approach and the response-depth of the questions. After results from the pilot study were deemed successful, the researcher conducted an additional 8 interviews. In total, 9 interviews are included in this study. Data from the interviews were systematically analyzed and categorized.

Major themes that emerged from wives' descriptions included financial issues, husbands' increased presence at home, and wives' changed perceptions of security, stability, and locus of control. There were 4 additional major themes including communications impasses, stable marital quality, sources of support, and wives' self-care and growth.



Social sciences, Education, Unemployment;, Workers