Involved fatherhood in the Nordic context: dominant narratives, divergent approaches
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionFarstad, G. R., & Stefansen, K. (2015). Involved fatherhood in the Nordic context: dominant narratives, divergent approaches. NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, 10(1), 55-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18902138.2015.1013348
This paper focuses on narratives and practices of‘involved fatherhood’, the ideal of anemotionally present and nurturing father. The geographical context of the study isIceland, one of the‘father-friendly’Nordic welfare states. Of particular concern in thispaper are connections between involved fatherhood and constructions of masculinity.The emergence of involved fatherhood is often linked to changes in masculinityideals, from‘old’to‘new’. Our analysis, which is based on qualitative interviews withparents of young children, indicates a more complex picture. Our point of departure isthe narrative of involved fatherhood which is dominant in Nordic policy formation.This narrative is strongly linked to early childhood care and the development offathers’individual caring practices–often presented as a prerequisite for gender equalparenting. Other types of fathering are positioned in contrast, representing outdatedand deficit forms of fathering. Our analysis suggests, however, that involvedfatherhood is portrayed and enacted through practices linked to both‘orthodox’and‘inclusive’masculinity, both among middle-class fathers who identify with theprimary carer narrative and a more diverse group of fathers who do not. We concludethat involved fatherhood comes in different forms that should be further explored interms of their respective potential and limitations for gender equal parenting.