Men do care! A gender-aware and masculinity-informed contribution to caregiving scholarship
Sammanfattning: In caregiving literature, it is often the female gender that has been the focus of attention, and in particular women’s unpaid labor. Studies also tend to make comparisons between men’s and women’s caregiving, using men’s caregiving experiences to show not only that women face greater burdens, but also that men’s needs can be minimized. This means that while gender analysis is not uncommon in the caregiving literature, gender tends to be equated with womanhood. This is impeding us from moving the debates on care and caregiving forward. The dissertation argues – through a phenomenological analysis of men’s motives, experiences and perceptions of care and caregiving – that much could be gained if we were to rectify the gender bias by bringing attention to caregiving men in the gender-aware and masculinity-informed way that is lacking in the family caregiving literature at present. For this dissertation, 19 caregiving adult sons and sons-in-law were interviewed. The aim of the study is twofold. Firstly, it attempts to contribute to the rectification of the gender bias found in the literature on family caregiving by focusing on men’s caregiving and answering the following research questions: What motivates men to provide care for their elderly parents? How do adult sons experience caregiving? What do adult sons think that care and caregiving are, i.e. what are their perspectives on care? Secondly, this dissertation also aims to explore whether a gender-aware and masculinity-informed perspective can be used to enhance our understanding of caregiving. This study discusses how motives, experiences and perspectives, which have so far been interpreted as unique to women, are also matters that men talk about and consider important in caregiving. Thus, this study shows that a gender-aware and masculinity-informed perspective on care can increase our understanding of family caregiving and contribute to rectify the gender bias that care research suffers from. The study suggests that caregiving men should not solely be regarded as empirically interesting. This is because they are an unexploited and theoretically profuse source of information about caregiving.
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