Manuela Naldini

Manuela Naldini
Manuela Naldini (University of Turin)

Sociologist, Associate professor of Sociology of the Family, at University of Turin, Italy. The main areas of interests are: Family changes and social policy, comparative welfare state, gender studies, work-family reconciliation issues, childcare, transition to parenthood, motherhood and parenthood.
She has published extensively on topics related to welfare state, care and policies and family changes in a comparative perspective.
Contact: manuela.naldini@unito.it

Anticipating and experincing fatherhood: the transition to parenthood in the italian fatherhood regime

In Italy, fathers’ behaviour seems still predominantly shaped by the traditional gender role-set, despite an increase in women’s labour-market participation. According to several studies fatherhood in Italy is in a transitional phase.
Within this context, it is interesting to see whether the ‘traditional’ gender division of childcare is still the prevalent pattern among well-educated middle-class dual-earner couples living in the North of Italy, and to identify the decision-making processes which lie behind the reproduction or the reduction of gender difference in parenting, by focusing on the transition to parenthood.

This paper is based on a longitudinal qualitative study on a group of Italian couples during their transition to parenthood. Partners were interviewed separately before and 1½ years after the arrival of their first child between 2010 and 2013 (for a total of 58 interviews). It first reconstruct the Italian fatherhood regime, considering work-life balance rights and obligations established by welfare state, reconciliation policies, labour market and family. Then the analysis focuses on the discourses of a group of 17 first-time parents about their planned and realized practices of reconciliation between paid work and childcare in their specific institutional context. In particular, its aim is to disentangle factors and mechanisms pushing toward ‘doing’ (West and Zimmerman, 1987) or ‘undoing’ gender (Deutsch, 2007) by looking into the ‘black box’ of the Italian ‘fatherhood regime’ (Gregory and Milner, 2005).
According to the international the transition to parenthood is accompanied a “re- traditionalization” of gender roles (Fox, 2009; Grunow et al., 2007), in the Italian case we see rather that strong material and cultural forces hinder the expected process of “de-tradizionalization” of taking care of the baby. Nevertheless, even in the Italian strongly discouraging context, some couples construct less gendered childcare arrangements.

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