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Work relations and the multiple dimensions of the work-life boundary: Hairstyling at home

Cohen, R. L. (2008). Work relations and the multiple dimensions of the work-life boundary: Hairstyling at home. In: Warhurst, C., Eikhof, D. R. & Haunschild, A. (Eds.), Work less, live more? Critical Perspectives in Work and Employment. (pp. 115-135). London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.


This article proposes a multidimensional approach to analysis of the work-life boundary and examines the affects of particular social and organizational relations on the preservation or porous-ness of different dimensions. In line with Nippert-Eng (1996), it is suggested that different dimensions of the boundary are reinforced or weakened by different social and organizational pressures. Analysis describes a specific type of multidimensional breaching – instances when work is taken outside of the worksite (spatial breaching) and is carried out outside of work-time (temporal breaching). Empirical research was conducted among hairstylists working in salons and barbershops in a city in the North of England. Because of the nature of the tasks involved in hairstyling – that the skills involved are widely exchangeable and so may be employed in extra-work environments and temporalities – hairstylists provide a nice site for investigating the circumstances when this does (or does not) occur. Data collection involved a comprehensive self-completion survey of salons and barbershops in the city (response rate: 40%; N=132) and semi-structured interviews with 70 stylists working in 52 salons or barbershops. Findings demonstrate that work relations (hairstylists’ structural relations of production – whether a worker is an owner-proprietor, chair-renter, on-commission stylist, basic-only stylist, or trainee) are critical in determining both workers’ ability and desire to resist the seepage of work into their social lives as well as the particular dimensions of the boundary that are breached. This is because work relations affect the relative importance of four identified motivations for taking work out of the salon (income production; training; inter-personal reciprocity rooted in social relations; and inter-personal reciprocity rooted in the workplace).

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Cohen, R. L. Work relations and the multiple dimensions of the work-life boundary: Hairstyling at home, 2008, Palgrave MacMillan. Reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive version of this piece may be found in Work Less, Live More? Edited By Chris Warhurst, Doris Ruth Eikhof and Axel Haunschild which can be purchased from
Publisher Keywords: Business & economics, sociology, work and employment, hairdressing, work life boundary
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
[thumbnail of Cohen, Rachel - Work-life Boundary chapter from Work Less Live More 2008.pdf]
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