Gender, Caring and Work
Contemporary Family Lives
Societal ideas and individual practices around fathering, just like mothering, have always been subject to change. Both historical and social science research have illuminated this diversity and shown how ideas of fathering responsibilities – what fathers are expected to do – and fatherhood, have been variously practiced and interpreted. Today for example men who are fathers are expected to be more emotionally involved in their child’s life and to demonstrate this in various ways. However other aspects of, and assumptions about fatherhood remain more resistant to change, for example the importance and significance of paid work to men’s lives is shared across generations of fathers even though mothers increasingly contribute to the workplace as significant economic actors. The so called ‘feminization of the workplace’ has not (yet) resulted in the masculinization of the home and family sphere. But changes are apparent – more rapid in some countries than others – across the western world as shifts at the social, political and ultimately cultural levels facilitate new ways of thinking about and doing fatherhood, motherhood and family lives.
Recent and ongoing research conducted by Professor Tina Miller has helped to illuminate some of the micro-level processes which operate as men become fathers for the first-time. Her finely-focused longitudinal research carried out in the UK has revealed the intricacies of how intentions and practices unfold as men embark on journeys into first-time fatherhood and how this traditionally maternal sphere is experienced by men as they anticipate a new paternal identity (Miller, 2011a, 2011b). The ways in which issues of gender are explored in her work on fatherhood have been commended as ‘skillfully’ providing ‘new insights into how gender roles might happen’ (Ulla Bjornberg, Professor of Sociology, Gothenburg University). This work provides a companion study to her longitudinal study on Transition to First-time Motherhood (Miller, 2005; 2007).