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Sandra Buchholz and Daniela Grunow

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Daniela Grunow and Søren Leth-Sørensen

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Couples' Transitions to Parenthood

Analysing Gender and Work in Europe

Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

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.
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Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

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Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

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Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

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Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

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Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

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Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

Why do European couples living fairly egalitarian lives 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 individual couples who are expecting their first child. Couples’ Transitions to Parenthood: Analysing Gender and Work in Europe is the first comparative, qualitative study which explicitly locates couples’ parenting ideals and plans in the wider context of national institutional structures. These structures embody different degrees of congruence between national family policies, employment protection, care provision and the dominant gender culture in the early twenty-first century. The book applies a novel analytical framework to detect these policy-culture gaps which serve as points of reference for the parents-to-be studied in this volume. The book shows how the parents’ agency varied along with the policy-culture gaps in their own countries and provides evidence of their struggle to adapt to, or resist, socially desired paths and patterns of change during the transition to parenthood. Evidence of a misfit between family policy and gender culture is widespread in the interviews in serval of the countries, thus weakening expectant parents’ potential to share paid and unpaid work more equally. The eight country studies in this volume provide novel insights into how dual-earner couples in Europe planned for the division of paid work and care during the transition to parenthood. In addition, three comparative chapters illuminate why transitions to parenthood differed in distinct institutional and situational contexts and why even egalitarian-minded couples often experienced this transition as gendered. The ways in which institutional structures limit possible choices and beliefs about ‘how to do things right’ are linked in ways that often go unnoticed by social scientists, policy makers, and by parents themselves. To elucidate these links is what the editors consider the main contribution of this book. Couples’ Transitions to Parenthood: Analysing Gender and Work in Europe provides: • A unique, comparative and in-depth analysis of transitions to parenthood in contemporary Europe, focusing on Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Poland • Cutting edge comparative qualitative methodology and innovative combination of macro and micro data • New theoretical insights into the link between structure and agency • Analysis of social policies and their impact on individual parents-to-be
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Daniela Grunow and Gerlieke Veltkamp

All over Europe, the social conditions under which couples become parents in the early twenty-first century differ markedly from those of their parents’ generation. Unlike earlier cohorts, today’s women and men tend to have quite similar life experiences and skills when they form a couple and decide to start a family. Yet, research shows that couples still appear to be giving up gender equal divisions of labour in favour of more traditional family arrangements upon entering parenthood. This chapter presents the theoretical and analytical framework used in this book to assess the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of these transitions in eight European countries. It explicitly locates couples’ beliefs and negotiations in the wider context of national institutions, such as national family policies, employment protection, care provision and gender ideologies about motherhood and fatherhood. In particular, the chapter introduces the notion of policy-culture gaps as a tool to analyse varying degrees of fit between national family policies and key dimensions of dominant gender culture.