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Couples' Transitions to Parenthood

Analysing Gender and Work in Europe Edited by Daniela Grunow, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany and Marie Evertsson, Stockholm University, Sweden
It is common for European couples living fairly egalitarian lives to adopt a traditional division of labour at the transition to parenthood. Based on in-depth interviews with 334 parents-to-be in eight European countries, this book explores the implications of family policies and gender culture from the perspective of couples who are expecting their first child. Couples’ Transitions to Parenthood: Analysing Gender and Work in Europe is the first comparative, qualitative study that explicitly locates couples’ parenting ideals and plans in the wider context of national institutions.
Extent: 336 pp
Hardback Price: $145.00 Web: $130.50
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 978 1 78536 599 7
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  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Family and Gender Policy
It is common for European couples living fairly egalitarian lives to adopt a traditional division of labour at the transition to parenthood. Based on in-depth interviews with 334 parents-to-be in eight European countries, this book explores the implications of family policies and gender culture from the perspective of couples who are expecting their first child. Couples’ Transitions to Parenthood: Analysing Gender and Work in Europe is the first comparative, qualitative study that explicitly locates couples’ parenting ideals and plans in the wider context of national institutions.

This unique analysis of transitions to parenthood in contemporary Europe focuses on Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and Poland. It explores how parents’ agency varies along with policy–culture gaps in their countries and provides evidence of their struggle to adapt to, or resist, socially desired paths and patterns of change. In fact, the ways in which institutional structures limit possible choices and beliefs about motherhood and fatherhood are linked in ways that often go unnoticed by social scientists, policymakers and parents themselves.

This cutting-edge book will be of interest to social scientists, political scientists, journalists and policymakers. Parents-to-be will also find value in this analysis of gender in parenthood.
‘How do couples about to have a child think about gender, work and family? What do they expect from their employers, the state and each other? This cross-national research team has created something absolutely unique—a study that uses rich qualitative data gathered from interviewing over 150 couples across eight European societies. Their approach allows the authors to delve into the interplay between constraints set by governments’ and employers’ policies, gender ideologies and the concrete plans that couples envision.’
– Paula England, New York University, US

‘The birth of a first child is a major event for modern, employed couples. Babies need so much and couples must find ways to divide childcare and yet protect the time each person needs for their careers and their own relationships. European couples confront these challenges in very different ways, depending on the extent of job-protected family leave and the quality, availability and affordability of childcare. And of course there is always the gender dimension, which seems to favour mothers over fathers in some countries more than others. These in-depth interview studies of couples experiencing new parenthood in eight countries provide engaging and dramatic views of how much can differ (or be taken for granted).’
– Frances Goldscheider, Brown University, US

‘This comparative, qualitative study on the interplay of couples’ work careers and family lives in eight nations is as ambitious as it is successful: it shows how varying family and labour market policies as well as gender cultures shape how parents-to-be adapt to their shifting obligations for childcare and work. It sends a clear message to couples and policymakers alike: social change is coming about both by changing norms and supportive institutional arrangements.’
– Karl Ulrich Mayer, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany

Contributors: P. Abril, J. Alsarve, P. Amigot, S. Bertolini, C. Botía-Morillas, K. Boye, F. Bühlmann, A. Dechant, M. Domínguez Folgueras, M. Evertsson, N. Girardin, D. Grunow, M.J. González, D. Hanappi, T. Jurado-Guerrero, I. Lapuerta, J.-M. Le Goff, T. Martín-García, J. Monferrer, R. Musumeci, M. Naldini, O. Nešporová, M. Reimann, A. Rinklake, C. Roman, M. Seiz, R. Stuchlá, P.M. Torrioni, I. Valarino, G. Veltkamp, M. Verweij



 

Contents:

Preface

PART I Conceptual framework, comparative overview and methodology
1. Institutions as reference points for parents-to-be in European societies: a theoretical and analytical framework
Daniela Grunow and Gerlieke Veltkamp

2. Institutional context, family policies and women’s and men’s work outcomes in eight European welfare states
Marie Evertsson

3. Comparing couples’ narratives within and across countries. Research design, sampling and analysis
Daniela Grunow

PART II The Scandinavian ‘Role Model’?
4. The crossroads of equality and biology. The child’s best interest and constructions of motherhood and fatherhood in Sweden
Jenny Alsarve, Katarina Boye and Christine Roman

PART III Conservative welfare states transforming the breadwinner-homemaker model
5. Anticipating motherhood and fatherhood – German couples’ plans for childcare and paid work
Anna Dechant and Annika Rinklake

6. Dutch couples at the life-course transition to parenthood
Mirjam Verweij and Maria Reimann

7. The transition to parenthood in Switzerland: between institutional constraints and gender ideologies
Nadia Girardin, Felix Bühlmann, Doris Hanappi, Jean-Marie Le Goff, Isabel Valarino

PART IV Unsupportive familialism in crisis
8. The best for the baby: future fathers in the shadow of maternal care in Italy
Sonia Bertolini, Rosy Musumeci, Manuela Naldini, Paola Maria Torrioni

9. The transition to parenthood in Spain: Adaptations to ideals
Paco Abril, Patricia Amigot, Carmen Botía-Morillas, Marta Domínguez-Folgueras, María José González, Teresa Jurado-Guerrero, Irene Lapuerta, Teresa Martín-García, Jordi Monferrer and Marta Seiz

PART V Drifting apart: Post-socialist legacy in new welfare states
10. Searching for egalitarian divisions of care. Polish couples at the life course transition to parenthood
Maria Reimann

11. Constructions of parenthood in the Czech Republic: maternal care and paternal help
Olga Nešporová and R?žena Stuchlá

PART VI Conclusions in comparative perspective
12. Narratives on the transition to parenthood in eight European countries. The importance of gender culture and welfare regime
Marie Evertsson and Daniela Grunow

Index