This chapter aims to illustrate how the social construction of fatherhood and motherhood relates to plans which couples expecting their first child have for sharing care and paid work among dual-earner couples living in Turin (a city in the north-west of Italy). The couples’ perceptions of ‘what’s best of the child’ are used as a lens through which the competing forces of the Italian family policy and the dominant gender culture are examined, at a time when the Italian labour market suffers from the 2007-08 economic crisis. Evaluation of couples’ ideals about parenthood and their planned strategies to balance work and family life, necessitated a review of how the event of motherhood and fatherhood contributed to the ‘doing and undoing’ of gender among couples in relation to the distributions of economic resources. In our analyses, we thus paid particular attention to the role that beliefs, ideals and social representations play in the transition to motherhood and fatherhood. Moreover we analyse in depth the importance couples attributed to their financial resources (income and job-related benefits), social resources (family and social network), social policy and work environment in shaping the nature, scope and quality of parental (leave policy) and non-parental childcare (out-of-home services) arrangements. Our interviews show that traditional ideals about what is the best for the child contributed to constructing distinct roles for the Italian fathers- and mothers-to-be. The couples frequently used these ideals to justify differences in their plans concerning men’s and women’s future career investment, participation in the care of the child, allocation of domestic work. The accounts from our informants suggested a high level of ambivalence toward the transition to a more traditional division of labour. These couples’ apparent resistance to redefine their own future parental roles occurred in a context in which a public debate and public support for shared parenthood are weak.

The best for the Baby: Future fathers in the shadow of maternal care

BERTOLINI, Sonia;MUSUMECI, ROSY;NALDINI, Manuela;TORRIONI, Paola Maria
2016

Abstract

This chapter aims to illustrate how the social construction of fatherhood and motherhood relates to plans which couples expecting their first child have for sharing care and paid work among dual-earner couples living in Turin (a city in the north-west of Italy). The couples’ perceptions of ‘what’s best of the child’ are used as a lens through which the competing forces of the Italian family policy and the dominant gender culture are examined, at a time when the Italian labour market suffers from the 2007-08 economic crisis. Evaluation of couples’ ideals about parenthood and their planned strategies to balance work and family life, necessitated a review of how the event of motherhood and fatherhood contributed to the ‘doing and undoing’ of gender among couples in relation to the distributions of economic resources. In our analyses, we thus paid particular attention to the role that beliefs, ideals and social representations play in the transition to motherhood and fatherhood. Moreover we analyse in depth the importance couples attributed to their financial resources (income and job-related benefits), social resources (family and social network), social policy and work environment in shaping the nature, scope and quality of parental (leave policy) and non-parental childcare (out-of-home services) arrangements. Our interviews show that traditional ideals about what is the best for the child contributed to constructing distinct roles for the Italian fathers- and mothers-to-be. The couples frequently used these ideals to justify differences in their plans concerning men’s and women’s future career investment, participation in the care of the child, allocation of domestic work. The accounts from our informants suggested a high level of ambivalence toward the transition to a more traditional division of labour. These couples’ apparent resistance to redefine their own future parental roles occurred in a context in which a public debate and public support for shared parenthood are weak.
Couples' transitions to Parenthood. Analysing Gender and Work in Europe
Edward Elgar Publishing
173
195
978 1 78536 599 7
http://www.e-elgar.com/shop/couples-transitions-to-parenthood
Parenthood, gender, work
Sonia Bertolini; Rosy Musumeci; Manuela Naldini; Paola Maria Torrioni
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1640760
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