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01-03-2011 | Image: Jan Hering, Courtesy Daniela Grunow | 3 mins read

Researchers are to carry out a comprehensive investigation into how parenting is perceived by professionals, the media, the parents themselves and look into differences across various European countries.The image of the woman in the home, cooking and holding the baby is fast becoming one of previous times. Traditional family roles are being reversed with fathers staying home and mothers going out to work. But is this gender division of labour so clear-cut?

The image of the woman in the home, cooking and holding the baby is fast becoming one of previous times. Traditional family roles are being reversed with fathers staying home and mothers going out to work. But is this gender division of labour so clear-cut? What impact does society, family policy, the media and experts have on the decisions made by parents?

Much comparative work in the past has concentrated on solely analysing information from large-scale databases. This new project aims to complement existing research with more indepth, studies, taking into consideration the backgrounds and circumstances of individuals, especially when making comparisons between countries. Dr. Daniela Grunow already has carried out research on the division of housework amongst spouses. She has found that the gender division of work often starts out rather equal among couples, but becomes more ‘traditional’ when a child is born. And whilst women have moved into the same banding of paid employment as men, men have not increased their unpaid share of housework to the same extent.

This project will be one of the first to thoroughly study contemporary parenting and will investigate a variety of themes using multiple quantitative and qualitative methods, such as interviewing couples to record how their roles and identities change after having a child. Areas of investigation include: who is the primary care-giver targeted by welfare states; how ‘good’ parenting is described by professionals (gynaecologists, midwives etc.); and how the norms and ideals about mothers and fathers have been represented in the media from 1980-2010. The group will also look into how these areas differ between countries and cultures, namely Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic.

This ERC grant promises to break new ground, allowing Dr. Grunow to form a strong young research team to take forward a major piece of research into the changing of couple gender norms and identities during family formation, over time and over the course of their lives. 

Dr. Grunow is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam and Associate Fellow at the Centre for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course, Yale University.

Related link

APPARENT project website

Publications

  • Book: Daniela Grunow. 2006. Convergence, Persistence and Diversity in Male and Female Careers: Does Context Matter in an Era of Globalization? A Comparison of Gendered Employment Mobility Patterns in West Germany and Denmark. Opladen/Farmington Hills: Barbara Budrich
  • Silke Aisenbrey, Marie Evertsson and Daniela Grunow. 2009. Is there a Career Penalty for Mothers' Time Out? A Comparison between Germany, Sweden and the U.S. Social Forces. Dec 2009
  • Daniela Grunow, Heather Hofmeister and Sandra Buchholz. 2006. Late 20th Century Persistence and Decline of the Female Homemaker in Germany and the United States. International Sociology 21(1). 101-132.
  • Daniela Grunow. 2006. Review of Mihaela Robila (Ed.): Families in Eastern Europe. Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research. Vol. 5. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004. European Societies 8 (3). 473-476.

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