American Sociological Association

The Status Dynamics of Role Blurring in the Time of COVID-19

Has the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic altered the status dynamics of role blurring? Although researchers typically investigate its conflictual aspects, the authors assess if the work-home interface might also be a source of status—and the relevance of schedule control in these processes. Analyzing data from nationally representative samples of workers in September 2019 and March 2020, the authors find that role blurring is associated with elevated status, but the onset of coronavirus disease 2019 weakens that effect. Likewise, schedule control enhances the status of role blurring, but its potency is also weakened during the pandemic. These findings align with the suggestion that role blurring signals a commitment to work and adherence to ideal worker norms. However, the pandemic changed that by intensifying role integration and possibly by reducing the degree of agency once associated with role blurring. The loss of choice around role blurring might have also diluted the distinctive status that it once carried.


Scott Schieman and Philip J. Badawy



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