Perceiving motherhood and fatherhood : Swedish working parents with young children

Sammanfattning: This book explores the way in which a group of parents of pre-school children construct the meaning of motherhood and fatherhood and cope with discourses that hold conflicting rules and value systems. Being a working parent today in Sweden entails moving between various domains. It involves integrating these domains, in order to create a reasonably satisfactory daily life for oneself and one's family members. Fieldwork at a multinational company, interviews with parents in two-earner families, and observations at a pre-school and at a child-health centre have been conducted over a period of two years. By combining interviews and observations at work and at home the author has explored the relationship between work and family life. The study shows that in contemporary Sweden there is a regeneration of conventional concepts of motherhood and fatherhood while at the same time these concepts are undergoing a redefinition. The discourses at the investigated workplace predominantly regenerate the conventional concepts. At the workplace, motherhood is associated with absenteeism and part-time work. Therefore, women encounter other expectations than men, which also gives them opportunities different from those of men. Modem parenting entails the work of co-ordinating and integrating clashing values, and this is reflected in both mothers' and fathers' stories. Cultural constructs from discourses at the workplace, the pre-school and the child-health centre exist parallel with each other. The informants' jobs, together with their own wishes and efforts to care well for their children, govern the mothers' and the fathers' daily lives. Particularly mothers are found to develop a skill in balancing between the different domains with their conflicting demands.

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