Worth fighting for: The correlates, context, and consequences of avoiding versus enacting domestic labor conflict

Kendra Knight, Jess K. Alberts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Domestic labor conflict arises when parties have incompatible goals or interests with regard to the achievement of household and care-related tasks. This can include household “chores, " such as cooking and laundry, as well as care for children and other dependents. Common sources of domestic labor conflict include dissatisfaction with the cleanliness of the home, perceived unfairness in household labor performance, desire for one or more parties to increase their performance and responsibility for domestic tasks, and complaints and disputes about standards for the performance of domestic tasks and care work. Domestic labor conflict has been most often studied among heterosexual cohabiting and married couples, and to a lesser extent among homosexual couples, roommates, and siblings. Although the study of domestic labor conflict has primarily concerned conflict over the tasks contained within one household or within a family’s shared space, domestic labor conflict also arises between parties who do not share living space, such as between individuals who co-parent one or more children but live in separate residences, or adult siblings providing care for aging family members. Research on domestic labor conflict has a decades-long history and is multi- disciplinary, with contributions from scholars in the fields of sociology, economics, family studies, gender studies, psychology and communication. Domestic labor conflict research often focuses on the relationship of conflict behavior to relational outcomes (e.g., satisfaction), personal health outcomes (e.g., stress, immune function), and the ability to affect change in labor allocation. Given the importance of domestic labor to family functioning, and considering that domestic labor conflicts interpenetrate issues of relational power and identity, family/household decision-making, and material resources and rewards (e.g., personal comfort, leisure time), the study of domestic labor conflict has the potential to greatly improve interpersonal relating among spouses and family members. In this chapter, we focus on domestic labor conflict that is enacted among heterosexual cohabiting and married couples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCommunicating Interpersonal Conflict in Close Relationships
Subtitle of host publicationContexts, Challenges, and Opportunities
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781317683810
ISBN (Print)9781138774896
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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