Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Maxine Wolfe

Committee Members

Leanne G. Rivlin

Roger A. Hart

Subject Categories



Not until the recent upsurge of interest in microcomputers and home work has attention been devoted to the household as a setting for technical learning and invention, or organizational and independent work. Drawing upon theoretical implications of research on industrial technology and the household, this study contributes to the development of an empirical basis for understanding the first ten years of microcomputer use at home.

The environmental approach to this psychological study includes two stages. In the first, a survey and content analysis of over 400 articles in mainstream periodicals and national newspapers revealed that since 1976 the representation of computer home-use shifted toward work-related purposes. In the second stage, six case studies of urban families with school-age children were conducted in order to understand the evolution that had occurred since they purchased microcomputers and attempted to use them for self-employment.

Interviews revealed that while adults and children use microcomputers to learn independently of their schools, and to work independently of their jobs, individual uses of microcomputers are not an entirely individual matter. A second income was needed to support the first years of self-employment, and gender influenced whose computing was encouraged, and whose work was interrupted. In every household, there was an increase in time spent working, though not necessarily, time spent earning. Media illustrations included.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

Included in

Psychology Commons