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The Activity titled “Case Study: Conflicting Systems” describes conflict that arises when two microsystems in Martina’s life interact. Can you relate to her experience? Please explain why or why not. Then, share a situation where conflict arose when two microsystems in your life interacted. What impact did this have on you and others around you? Please explain and provide examples.
Case Study: Conflicting Systems
Read through the following case study, and then answer the questions based on what you have learned about competing microsystems.
Martina, a mother of four children, decided that she wanted to get a part-time job. Her children were ages 16, 12, 10, and seven. She needed some time away from the family, because she was feeling like she had no other life outside her home. She actually missed working and often thought about her working life prior to having children—how she was challenged and felt appreciated. In addition, she wanted a little extra income so they could save for a vacation.
She got a bookkeeping job in small company, working between 15 and 20 hours a week. Some of the hours were while her children were in school, and others were on the weekend. While her husband was supportive of her going back to work, his expectations of their roles did not change. Martina’s expectations did change. She thought her husband should help out with some chores around the house. He still thought she should be able to take care of everything because her job was only part-time. She often talked to her coworkers about how her husband was not realizing that she was now working and needed help.
Martina’s employer really liked her work ethic and the quality of her work. The employer thought she should be able to take work home with her. She started to feel extremely stressed. Her employer was starting to treat her like a full-time employee.
Martina began to experience stress. Her husband still treated her as a full-time stay-at-home mother, and her boss was treating her like she was a full-time employee.
Woman working on her laptop in the kitchen with her family in the background.
How can Martina understand her overlapping microsystems?
© David Sacks/Digital Vision/Thinkstock
Individuals experience both conflict and growth when the microsystems in their lives interact. Role stressors can occur from having multiple demands on an individual’s roles. Answer the following questions about Martina’s competing systems.
1. Although Martina’s husband was supportive of her going back to work, his expectations of their roles around the house did not change. What type of role stressor is this?
Role ambiguity (correct)
Feedback: Martina lacked a clear understanding of what behavior was expected. This is known as role ambiguity.
2. When Martina’s boss started treating her like a full-time employee, this was an example of which role stressor?
Role overload (correct)
Feedback: Martina was expected to do too much at work and at home. This is known as role overload.
3. Martina talked to her coworkers about how her husband was not realizing that she was now working and needed help. What type of mesosystem is this?
Feedback: In this example, Martina creates a mental mesosystem by talking about her microsystem activities.
4. Martina wanted some time away from the family, because she was feeling like she had no other life outside of her home. What type of mesosystem is this?
Note. The material in this section was written by Kathleen Ringenbach. Copyright 2014 Flat World Knowledge, Inc.