Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Applied Communication Research 30:1 (February 2002), pp. 50–77

doi: 10.1080/00909880216577


Copyright © 2002 National Communication Association. Published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


Although work-family benefits are increasingly important organizational policies, limited research addresses the impact of communication on benefit utilization. However, communication is significant because the perceived appropriateness of work-family benefits emerges through interaction. For example, when coworkers complain about “picking up the slack” for those using family leave, their discourse may impact future decisions of other workers regarding whether they utilize the work-family benefits available to them. We apply Giddens’ (1984) Structuration Theory to examine organizational members’ discursive responses to conditions (and contradictions) present in utilizing work-family benefits in a governmental organization. We argue the daily discursive practices of individuals can either reinforce or undermine formally stated work-family initiatives, and in turn discuss the implications of this “structuration” of policy.