New Parents in Europe
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New Parents in Europe

Work-Care Practices, Gender Norms and Family Policies

Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

This innovative book explores the different ways in which dual-earner couples in contemporary welfare states plan for, realize and justify their divisions of work and care during the transition to parenthood. Providing a unique comparative, longitudinal and qualitative analysis of new parents in eight European countries, this timely book explicitly locates couples’ beliefs and negotiations in the wider context of national institutional structures.
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Chapter 12: Swimming against the tide or going with the flow? Stories of work-care practices, parenting norms and the importance of policies in a changing Europe

Marie Evertsson and Daniela Grunow


The research question spurring this edited volume was how couples in diverse national contexts resist or embrace the various competing institutional and normative framings of parenthood. Based on longitudinal in-depth interviews with couples in eight European countries, this chapter pulls the findings from the different country chapters together and draws conclusions in light of the conceptual framework. The interviews illustrate how parents enacted agency in diverse institutional and social contexts, structured by gender norms and parenting ideals. The chapter highlights the role of family policies in the couples’ struggle to adapt to, or resist, socially desired paths and patterns of change during the transition to parenthood. Our findings suggest that non-normative work-care divisions are difficult to realize everywhere, but for different reasons and to varying degrees. The ways in which institutional structures limit possible choices and work-care practises are linked in ways that often go unnoticed by the parents themselves.

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