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‘A discourse of ‘we’: partnership, gender and caregiving in UK ‘stay-at-home-dads’

Location: Richmond Building, JSB Lecture Theatre

Date and Time:
Wed 22 Mar 2017, 13:00 - 14:00

Psychology Seminar Series:

Speaker: Prof. Abigail Locke

Abstract: This seminar examines parenting cultures within the family putting the focus on fathers who are acting in a primary caregiving position for their children. Despite contemporary societal discourses of ‘parenting’ that imply gender neutrality, and recent moves towards extended parental leave, caregiving remains a highly gendered practice within the UK with the mother typically taking on the primary caregiving role in most families. UK social policy related to families and caring often reinforces these traditional gendered binary caring roles, however, at an individual level, fathers express wanting to be more ‘involved’ with the care of their children and ‘share’ more parenting responsibilities with their partners. Using a critical discursive psychological analysis on a series of unstructured interviews with fathers who were acting in a primary caregiving capacity for their children, there was an overarching egalitarian discourse that emerged of ‘parenting as partnership’. This was marked through a number of ways including a ‘discourse of we’ when it came down to decision making for their children; a desire to be supportive of their partners’ careers when narrating their reasons for initially taking on the primary caregiving role; and a labelling of themselves and their caregiving practices in gender neutral terms of ‘parenting’ instead of fathering. These egalitarian discourses and parenting practices stand in direct contrast with the common societal gendered constructions of caregiving and traditional hegemonic ‘fathering’ roles. Given the recent changes in parental leave within the UK, it will be interesting to see if these egalitarian discourses become more commonplace within UK parenting cultures.

All staff and students welcome

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