Couples' Transitions to Parenthood
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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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Chapter 3: Comparing couples’ narratives within and across countries: research design, sampling and analysis

Daniela Grunow


This chapter discusses the methodological choices which provide the foundations for this edited volume. The methods applied have been chosen to disentangle the interrelationship between the individual and institutional factors contributing to the gendered division of labour. These factors come together in complex ways to produce and to some extent exaggerate a gendered transition to parenthood, as biological, social and institutional aspects reinforce each other, and thus contribute to gendered constructions of motherhood and fatherhood. The analyses that this book is based on are drawn from semi-structured interviews with working couples expecting their first child in eight European countries. The qualitative approach used allows for an in-depth analysis of men’s and women’s various experiences and struggles during this transition. We first outline the maximum variation design reflected in the selection of countries, then turn to the theory-based homogenous sampling strategy underlying the recruitment of couples and elaborate on the advantages of applying a linked lives perspective. Finally, we describe the central features of the 167 couples analysed in this volume.

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