Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Public Administration and Policy

Content Description

1 online resource (x, 128 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Sue R Faerman

Committee Members

Judith Saidel, Annis G Golden


discourse, societal culture, work-life balance policy, Work-life balance, Work and family, Sex role, Social conditions

Subject Categories

Public Administration | Public Policy


As the proportion of both working women and dual-income families has increased worldwide over the last few decades, employees' value orientations related to their quality of life have changed considerably, in regard to both their work and personal lives. With these changes, a variety of work-life balance policies and practices have emerged to help employees manage their work and family responsibilities. In addition. policy discussions and public discourse regarding issues of work-life balance have expanded. In the Republic of Korea, the research context of this research, although there have been many efforts both from the legislature and government to promote organizational initiatives for work-life balance as a response to changes in the social context, there has been strong criticism of these policies, mostly often expressed from the users' perspective. Focusing on work-life balance policies as public policy and on societal culture as policy context, this study examines public policy discourse that emerged in the legislative proceedings on the formulation of Korean work-life balance policies during the time period 2001-2011. Taking a new approach that focuses on culture at the macro-level and examining policy discourse as an indicator of culture in a society, this study shows how problems diagnosed and solutions prescribed have been framed and socially constructed in a specific cultural context. Linking the low birthrate and national competitiveness to the level of female economic activity, the dominant frames reflected underlying cultural assumptions that work-life policies are means of dealing with social problems, while social meanings regarding these policies have oriented toward economic goals. Moreover, gendered cultural norms and values reflected in the discourse, which focus on women's dual roles in the workplace and at home, indicate work-life balance policies preferentially used by working mothers might function as gendered practices that support existing gendered culture. Overall, the findings of this study indicate that more efforts from policy makers and government officials are needed to create the cultural conditions where work-life balance policies can be implemented effectively with practices that reflect values and norms that are necessary for the successful translation of these policies into the workplace.