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The Handbook of Lifespan Communication


Jon F. Nussbaum

The Handbook of Lifespan Communication is the foundational scholarly text that offers readers a state of the art view of the varied and rich areas of lifespan communication research. The fundamental assumptions of lifespan communication are that the very nature of human communication is developmental, and, to truly understand communication, change across time must be incorporated into existing theory and research. Beginning with chapters on lifespan communication theory and methodologies, chapters are then organized into the various phases of life: early childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, middle adulthood, and older adulthood. Top scholars across several disciplines have contributed to chapters within their domains of expertise, highlighting significant horizons that will guide researchers for years to come.
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Chapter Thirteen: Communication and Workplace Socialization: A Lifespan Examination of the Work-Life Interface



A Lifespan Examination of the Work-Life Interface


Most adults spend significant time working in organizations during their lifetime. It would be impossible to gain a thorough understanding of workplace socialization by examining only the communication that occurs in the organizations during those years. Instead, this chapter takes a lifespan perspective to explore how workplace communication is influenced by the interface of communication at work and outside of work. The chapter is organized similarly to Jablin and Krone’s (1994) lifespan perspective on task/work relationships based on socialization/assimilation models (e.g., Jablin, 1987, 2001; Kramer, 2010). The chapter examines communication as part of the work-life interface during four general periods: (1) the time growing up prior to individuals entering the workforce as full-time employees, often called anticipatory socialization; (2) the time when individuals first become full-time employees, often called entry or encounter; (3) the time throughout their working years when individuals experience various work-life issues, sometimes called role management or metamorphosis; and (4) the time when individuals leave employment, commonly called exit.


Individuals begin the process of organizational socialization long before their first jobs. Through anticipatory socialization individuals develop beliefs and expectations “concerning how people communicate in particular occupations and work settings” ← 253 | 254 → (Jablin, 1982, p. 680). Composed of communication and non-interactional experiences, anticipatory socialization is a continuous learning and interpretive process. The beliefs and values acquired through socialization guide individuals’ general choices, behaviors,...

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