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Our commentary brings Boyer et al.'s (2017) argument of a 'regendering of care' through men's growing engagement as caregivers into a dialogue with scholarship from German-speaking countries. This literature supports Boyer et al.'s claim of a connection between labour market opportunities and stay-at-home fatherhood. However, the research from our language context also suggests that fathers who are not gainfully employed do not necessarily become primary caregivers. Furthermore, the number of stay-at-home fathers is shrinking rather than growing. In light of these findings, we suggest shifting the discussion from stay-at-home fathers to fathers as part-time workers and part-time carers. This is where we identify the potential for a subtle revolution that bears the promise of far more wide-ranging changes in the gendering of care.
Stay-at-home fathers on the
wane – In comes daddy day!
Changing practices of fathering
in German-speaking countries
Karin Schwiter
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Diana Baumgarten
University of Basel, Switzerland
Our commentary brings Boyer et al.’s (2017) argument of a ‘regendering of care’ through men’s growing
engagement as caregivers into a dialogue with scholarship from German-speaking countries. This literature
supports Boyer et al.’s claim of a connection between labour market opportunities and stay-at-home
fatherhood. However, the research from our language context also suggests that fathers who are not
gainfully employed do not necessarily become primary caregivers. Furthermore, the number of stay-at-
home fathers is shrinking rather than growing. In light of these findings, we suggest shifting the discussion
from stay-at-home fathers to fathers as part-time workers and part-time carers. This is where we identify
the potential for a subtle revolution that bears the promise of far more wide-ranging changes in the
gendering of care.
Austria, care, fatherhood, Germany, men, Switzerland, work
The last two decades have witnessed a burgeoning
academic interest in shifting understandings of
fatherhood and of men’s involvement in unpaid care
work (Marsiglio et al., 2000; Oechsle et al., 2012;
Walter and Eickhorst, 2012). But studies on stay-at-
home fathers (SAHFs) are rare (Peukert, 2012: 516).
Boyer et al. (2017) review the existing literature
on SAHFs from North America, Scandinavia and
the United Kingdom. Their geographic focus begs
the question what we could learn by extending our
perspective to contexts outside the English-
speaking world? It would go beyond the scope of
this commentary and of our expertise to attempt an
encompassing overview (cf. Levtov et al., 2015).
However, we’d like to use this opportunity to
explore how SAHFs are discussed in the German-
Corresponding author:
Karin Schwiter, Department of Geography, University of Zurich,
Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
Dialogues in Human Geography
2017, Vol. 7(1) 83–87
ªThe Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permission:
DOI: 10.1177/2043820617691634
language academic debate and reflect on what we
might learn from that dialogue.
Boyer et al. (2017) argue that recessionary eco-
nomic restructuring with large-scale job losses or
reduced working hours might lead to more fathers
becoming primary caregivers for their children and
thus bring about long-term changes in the gendered
division of reproductive labour. Unlike in the
United Kingdom, the financial crisis of 2008/2009
did not lead to large-scale lay-offs in the German-
speaking countries. In Germany, unemployment
rates dropped steadily from 7.4/7.6%in 2008/2009
to 4.6%in 2015; throughout this period, in Austria
they remained below 6%and in Switzerland below
5%(OECD, 2016b). Therefore, these periods of
economic development aren’t comparable.
Nevertheless, there is evidence from German
research that SAHFs are indeed closely linked to
labour market opportunities. Two recent studies by
Klammer et al. (2012) and Klenner et al. (2012)
analyse families in Germany in which mothers are
the main earners. They conclude that these arrange-
ments often do not result from choice but from
necessity. The arrangements mostly emerge when
fathers are unable to provide for the family due to
redundancy or precarious employment. These find-
ings are similar to those of an older study from
Austria in which many SAHFs justified their
arrangements by referring to previous unemploy-
ment or adverse labour market conditions (Str¨
et al. 1988 in Peukert, 2012). Similarly, Amacker
(2012) discusses a Swiss case study in which stay-
at-home fatherhood results from job loss. In sum,
the existing literature from the German-speaking
countries suggests that stay-at-home fatherhood
results more from the inability of fathers to be main
earners than from their desire to be primary carers
(cf. also Brehmer et al., 2010).
Irrespective of the causes, Boyer et al. argue that
SAHFs might include an emancipatory potential to
regender care. Reviewing the existing research in
our linguistic region, we want to caution against
imagining stay-at-home fatherhood as a straightfor-
ward role reversal. As Boyer et al. also concede,
there is ample evidence that women continue to do
a large share of household and care work also in
SAHF families (Klenner et al., 2012; Peukert,
2012: 516). Household and care work does not
necessarily shift to the father. Indeed, Koppetsch
and Speck (2015) find that couples tend to use var-
ious strategies that hide their deviation from the
male-earner model. For example, they deliberately
keep the responsibility for household and care work
with the mother, they declare it a merely temporary
arrangement, or they mask the father’s low or inex-
istent earnings. Koppetsch and Speck argue that
these strategies prevent disrupting SAHFs’ gender
identity, which is still strongly linked to employ-
ment (cf. also Scholz, 2009).
Furthermore, the evidence from the German-
speaking countries does not support Boyer et al.’s
UK-based findings that the number of SAHFs is
growing. On the contrary, comparing the results of
two independent representative surveys, Peukert
(2012: 516) concludes that the share of German
households with a female earner and a male carer
dropped from 2%in 1985 to 1%in 2007. According
to the German statistical office, the number of
SAHFs did not grow between 2001 and 2011.
Furthermore, in 2011, only 2%of not-employed
men between 15 and 64 years of age stated that their
status resulted from care responsibilities (German
Federal Statistical Office, 2012: 46). In Switzerland,
2.9%of fathers in two-parent households with chil-
dren under the age of 15 were not employed. How-
ever, less than 0.5%of fathers stated that they were
not in the labour market because of care responsi-
bilities (Swiss Federal Statistical Office, 2013: 7).
After a further drop in the number of SAHFs in
2013, the Swiss popular press even discussed
whether the house husband was actually on the brink
of extinction (Kehler, 2014).
Based on the evidence given above, we are rather
critical of Boyer et al.’s argument that recession-
induced SAHFs might lead to a regendering of care.
We suspect that current shifts in the division of care
work do not result from SAHFs but from the grow-
ing number of fathers who continue their careers but
reduce their working hours. In Switzerland, for
example, the percentage of fathers with children
under the age of 25 who work part-time has risen
from 3%in 1992 to 11%in 2015 (Swiss Federal
Statistical Office, 2016). In Austria, the share of
part-time working fathers with children under
84 Dialogues in Human Geography 7(1)
15 years of age has grown from 3.1%in 2005 to
5.0%in 2012 (Baierl and Kapella, 2014: 15). Simi-
larly, in Germany, part-time workers among fathers
aged 27–59 amounted to 5%in 2008 (German
Federal Statistical Office, 2010).
While these numbers might not yet signify a care
revolution, they gain further support from qualita-
tive studies. In in-depth interviews on family plans
with young Swiss adults in their mid-20s, we dis-
covered a marked shift in these adults’ argumenta-
tion. Our first study consisting of 24 interviews was
carried out between 2005 and 2007. The intervie-
wees argued that they strongly support involved
fatherhood and then continued to give a rationale
why stay-at-home fatherhood was not a viable
option for their own families (Schwiter, 2009).
Talking to 46 young Swiss adults again in a second
study in 2014/2015, we found that the interviewees
were still just as sceptical with regard to stay-at-
home fatherhood (Baumgarten et al., 2016). How-
ever, nearly all interviewees evoked the option of
part-time work. Mostly, fathers’ part-time work was
imagined as a reduction from the standard five- to a
four-day week. The interviewees argued that this
day off work was important for experiencing every-
day routines with their child(ren) and thus living an
involved fatherhood. Simultaneously, the arrange-
ment allowed for the mothers to increase their
labour market participation.
In the popular press, this one day off work has
already become a topos and is termed ‘daddy-
day’ (e.g. Mohler, 2014; Sachs, 2010; SAT3,
2016). We concede that part-time work is neither
new nor revolutionary in itself. Nevertheless, we
want to argue that the prevalent discussion of a
daddy-day marks a major shift in the gendering
of care in Switzerland. It extends the fathers’
competence from shared responsibility for child-
care on evenings and weekends to being solely
responsible for everyday routines with children
on an ordinary workday.
Unlike stay-at-home fatherhood, however, a
daddy-day does not disrupt a father’s role as main
earner. It only adds a second role as a part-time
carer. Thus, fathers who work reduced hours do not
lose their identity as breadwinners, which – as
Boyer et al. indicate – is one aspect that has proven
to be challenging for SAHFs. To this date, male
identity in Western societies has remained anchored
in the sphere of work and closely associated with an
employment-centred life course (Baumgarten et al.,
2012; Behnke and Meuser, 2012). Consequently,
men often struggle to build a masculine identity
independently of gainful employment (Hanlon,
2009: 193; Peukert, 2012: 523f; Scholz, 2009). Con-
sidering the persisting stigmas of unemployment
and of housework as feminized work, this is not
surprising. In contrast to SAHFs, fathers working
as four-day earners and one-day carers can evade
this fundamental challenge to their identities.
There are some caveats, of course. First, more
research is needed to find out whether daddy-days
are prevalent throughout society or limited to spe-
cific socio-economic and geographic milieus. Due
to the persisting gap between women’s and men’s
wages (OECD, 2016a), reducing a father’s working
hours in exchange for an increase in the mother’s
share will in most couples result in a net financial
loss. Even in a comparably well off country like
Switzerland, a reduction in income will not be easily
affordable for all families.
Furthermore, we agree with Boyer et al. that a
great deal of research still needs to be done on men
who are part-time workers and part-time carers. We
need to know more about how these daddy-days are
negotiated and lived in the respective families. Do
mothers prepare meals, get gym bags ready and
write a to-do list for the fathers? Do fathers remain
the mothers’ ‘junior partners’ (Behnke and Meuser,
2012: 131) and ‘perpetual trainees’ (Jurczyk and
Lange, 2012: 13)? Or do they become equal partners
in caring? Do daddy-days consist of mainly play-
and-fun or do they also generate a marked shift in
the allocation of housework (cf. Ko¨nig, 2012)? How
does bearing sole responsibility for workday rou-
tines with children shape these fathers’ identities?
Does caring become an integral part of male identity
and bring about a broadened understanding of mas-
culinity (Behnke and Meuser, 2012)?
In sum, we suggest refocusing the debate away
from SAHFs to fathers as part-time workers and
part-time carers, because this is where we see the
need for more research and a great potential for a
subtle revolution regarding the gendering of care.
Schwiter and Baumgarten 85
We wish to thank our colleagues Nina Wehner, Andrea
Maihofer, Karsten Kassner and Matthias Luterbach for
many years of inspiring collaboration in studying the
changing practices of fatherhood as well as Anne
Zimmermann for her valuable comments on earlier ver-
sions of this paper. We are grateful to the our colleagues
and the core team of the National Research Programme 60
for their support.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest
with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publica-
tion of this article.
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial
support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of
this article: the Swiss National Science Foundation,
National Research Programme 60 and the Universities
of Basel and Zurich.
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... Agents of change? Societal and structural issues and the regendering of care work Schwiter and Baumgarten's (2017) commentary on our article argues that an overly narrow focus on stay-at-home fathers (SAHFs) is misplaced. They suggest that a regendering of care may equally occur through other shifts in men's patterns of employment, such as the reduction in weekly hours spent in the labour market which has recently taken place in Switzerland. ...
... John Adams, a prominent UK stay-at-home dad blogger (dadblo noted that his (small) income from blogging would mean that he would not count in national statistics that are primarily concerned with capturing levels of economic activity (Adams, 2015). Significant numbers of those men whom Schwiter and Baumgarten (2017) highlight as reconstructing their relationship to the wage labour market in Switzerland through less than full-time employment and increased responsibilities as carers may identify as primary caregivers even if they are not recognized as such in formal statistics. The myriad ways in which fathers simultaneously reconstruct their relationship to caregiving and the wage labour market in a Northern European context clearly holds the potential for changing societal norms around both the feminization of care and expectations related to full-time working. ...
Full-text available
In response to four commentaries on our paper ‘Regendering care in the aftermath of recession?’, we extend our discussion of the ongoing knowledge gap that prevails around shifting patterns of male work/care. Recognizing the spatial limits of extant theories of male primary caregiving, we discuss first the need to attend to the variegated landscapes of male caregiving across the globe. Likewise, the theoretical stakes of expanding the focus of ‘mainstream’ analysis to take account of the situated experiences and knowledges of men and women in countries of the global South. We then consider the subjects of our research inquiry (the ‘who’ of contemporary fathering) and how different definitions of male primary caregivers may reveal or conceal patterns and shifts in male caregiving practices. Lastly we consider questions of scale and research methodology. Although our paper employs a national-level analysis, we fully endorse the use of alternative scalar lenses and underline the need to analyse male care within the context of multiscalar and interacting sites of normative change: from nation state, to community, to home, to the body.
... Finally, we identified the non-conventional negotiation structure, which involved co-parenting but in which fathers had an increased domestic role, due to the demands and circumstances surrounding their wives' employment. In contrast to a stay-at-home dad (Schwiter and Baumgarten, 2017), the fathers in our sample worked fulltime (more than 35 h a week) in addition to their household and childcare responsibilities. Both these types of negotiation structures were made possible by the shift in identity salience for working fathers discussed earlier. ...
Full-text available
Introduction Taking on an identity lens, we explore how young working fathers (in the establishment phase of their careers), experience their careers in the context of their changing family roles (shifting ideologies of fathering). We propose that working fathers’ work experiences, work decisions, and career identity are the product of social and cognitive processes in a dual-earner relationship. Materials and methods This qualitative study was conducted using an interpretive, and qualitative survey. The data was collected amongst a purposive sample of 45 young South African, well-educated, working fathers, using semi-structured interviews, until data saturation was reached. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results The three main themes extracted from the data were: “the meaning of family identity,” “the impact of family identity on career identity,” and finally, “the types of negotiation scenarios” used by working fathers in dual-earner relationships, and how they balance the work-family challenges they face. Conclusion This study provides strong empirical support for the family-relatedness of the work decisions perspective, as we highlight the roles of working fathers as indicative of their family identities, and how these then influence their career decisions. Furthermore, our findings shed light on how dual-earner couples negotiate their work-family needs to foster positive work-family outcomes.
... When it comes to part-time work, most of the interviewed men* and women* understood an 80% workload. The y talk about this extra day off, notwithstanding weekends and holidays, as "dad-day" (see (Schwiter and Baumgarten 2017)), where men* are solely responsible for taking care of the child. The reby, quality time with the child, where the mother is absent or uninvolved, has become a priority. ...
Gender Equality, the fifth UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5), aims for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls. It thereby addresses all forms of violence, unpaid and unacknowledged care and domestic work, as well as the need for equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. Thus, the areas in which changes with regard to gender equality on a global scale are needed are very broad. In this volume, we focus on three main areas of inquiry, ‘Sexuality’, ‘Politics of Difference’ and ‘Care, Work and Family’, and raise the following transversal questions: How can gender be addressed in an intersectional perspective, linking gender to further categories of difference, which are involved in discrimination? In which ways are binary notions of gender taking part in inequality regimes and by which means can these binaries be questioned? How can we measure, control and portray progress with regard to gender equality and how do we, in doing so, define gender? Which multi-, inter- or transdisciplinary perspectives are needed for understanding the diversity of gender, in order to support a transition to 'gender equality'? Transitioning to Gender Equality is part of MDPI's new Open Access book series Transitioning to Sustainability. With this series, MDPI pursues environmentally and socially relevant research which contributes to efforts toward a sustainable world. Transitioning to Sustainability aims to add to the conversation about regional and global sustainable development according to the 17 SDGs. Set to be published in 2020/2021, the book series is intended to reach beyond disciplinary, even academic boundaries.
Die Anstellung in Teilzeitpensen wurde lange Zeit als ein Modell für Frauen verstanden. Zudem werden Teilzeitstellen einerseits als Mittel für Arbeitende, um Privatleben und Beruf zu vereinbaren, aber andererseits auch als ein im Interesse von Firmen geschaffenes atypisches Arbeitsverhältnis mit den dazugehörigen Nachteilen gesehen. In diesem Zusammenhang ist mit Bezug auf das Buch Half A Job: Bad and Good Part-Time Jobs in a Changing Labor Market von Chris Tilly (1996) auch von „guten“ und „schlechten“ Teilzeitstellen die Rede. Ab den 90er Jahren wird nun ein Aufkommen von Fast-Vollzeitstellen, d.h. von Stellen mit Anstellungsprozenten zwischen 80 und 95%, beobachtet. Diese Art von Teilzeitstellen hat dabei sowohl für Frauen wie auch für Männer wesentlich an Bedeutung gewonnen. In dieser Arbeit werden nun sowohl Eigenschaften dieser Anstellungsart als auch mögliche Gründe für den Bedeutungszuwachs dieser Stellen untersucht. Erstens werden dabei anhand logistischer Regressionen individuelle Entscheidungen für Fast-Vollzeitstellen nachvollzogen und zweitens wird versucht anhand von fixed effects Modellen der Anstieg der Zahl an Fast- Vollzeitstellen innerhalb von Berufsgruppen zu ergründen. Dabei kann anhand von Daten der Schweizer Arbeitskräfteerhebung die Seite der Arbeitenden und anhand von Stellenausschreibungsdaten des Stellenmarkt-Monitors Schweiz auch die Firmenseite berücksichtigt werden. Bezüglich der individuellen Entscheidungen zeigt sich, dass sich Fast-Vollzeitstellen sowohl für Frauen als auch für Männer wesentlich von Vollzeitstellen und Teilzeitstellen mit niedrigerem Pensum unterscheiden. Im Vergleich zu herkömmlichen T eilzeitstellen scheinen Fast-Vollzeitstellen mehrheitlich dem Bild einer „guten“ Teilzeitstelle im Sinne von Tilly zu entsprechen. Es zeigen sich jedoch sowohl zwischen den Geschlechtern als auch nach Lohnkategorien wesentliche Unterschiede. Fast-Vollzeitstellen scheinen für Männer eine Option zu sein, um kleine Kinder und Beruf zu vereinbaren, Frauen mit Kindern scheinen aber eher in herkömmlichen Teilzeitstellen angestellt zu sein. Insofern scheinen sich „traditionelle“ Geschlechter-Arrangements auf einer anderen Ebene zu reproduzieren. Bezüglich Lohnkategorien zeigt sich, dass viele Personen, die weniger gut verdienen, unfreiwillig in Fast-Vollzeitstellen angestellt sind. Eine einheitliche Kategorisierung als „gute“ Teilzeitstellen ist also nicht angebracht. Beim Blick auf den Zuwachs an Fast-Vollzeitstellen fällt auf, dass sowohl die Zahl freiwillig als auch Zahl unfreiwilliger Fast-Vollzeitstellen in vielen Berufsgruppen zugenommen haben. Bezüglich möglichen Gründen für den Anstieg an unfreiwilligen Fast-Vollzeitstellen scheinen Flexibilisierungsstrategien der Unternehmen im Vordergrund stehen, die Zunahme an freiwilligen Fast-Vollzeitstellen scheint mit geänderten Präferenzen der Arbeitenden resp. der Reaktion der Firmen darauf zusammenzuhängen.
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Against a backdrop of persistent gender inequalities around childcare, recent research suggests that some men – and especially fathers – are engaging to a greater extent in the everyday tasks of social reproduction. However, our understanding of the multiple factors, motivations and institutions that facilitate and constrain this nuanced ‘regendering of care’ phenomenon in different national contexts remains limited. Previous work has theorized the uneven rise of male primary caregiving in North America and Scandinavia. This article extends these debates through an empirical focus on the United Kingdom in the wake of the 2008–09 recession and double dip of 2011–12, to explore male work-care in relation to economic restructuring, welfare spending cuts, rising costs of childcare, policy interventions which seek to culturally and numerically defeminize care work, and concerns over work–life balance in an ‘age of austerity’. The final part of the article explains the significance of a larger research agenda that recentres the expansive work–life balance literature through an expanded focus of analysis on men, work-care intermediaries and socially sustainable modes of post-recessionary growth.
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D): Die Forschung zu Familiengründung und Kinderlosigkeit konzentrierte sich lange Zeit praktisch ausschließlich auf Frauen. Erst in den letzten Jahren wird vermehrt auch die Bedeutung von Männern in diesem Zusammenhang untersucht. Im vorliegenden Text werden Ergebnisse aus einem Forschungsprojekt vorgestellt, in dem es um die Wechselbeziehungen von Männlichkeitskonstruktionen, Vorstellungen von Vaterschaft und Kinderwunsch bei Männern geht. Es zeigt sich zweierlei: Erstens lässt sich eine spannungsreiche Gleichzeitigkeit alter und neuer Geschlechternormen im Prozess der (Nicht-)Familiengründung feststellen. Zweitens macht es das Material notwendig, zwischen unterschiedlichen Formen des Kinderwunsches bei Männern zu differenzieren und insgesamt verstärkt der Frage nach dem Zusammenhang von Männlichkeit und Generativität nachzugehen.
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Throughout the 1990s, scholars interested in fatherhood have generated a voluminous, rich, and diverse body of work. We selectively review this literature with an eye toward prominent theoretical, methodological, and substantive issues. This burgeoning literature, complemented by social policy makers' heightened interest in fathers and families, focuses on fatherhood in at least 4 key ways. First, theorists have studied fatherhood as a cultural representation that is expressed through different sociocultural processes and embedded in a larger ecological context. Second, researchers have conceptualized and examined the diverse forms of fatherhood and father involvement. Third, attempts have been made to identify the linkages between dimensions of the father-child relationship and developmental outcomes among children and fathers. Fourth, scholars have explored the father identity as part of a reciprocal process negotiated by men, children, mothers, and other interested parties. Our review highlights research that examines the relationships between dimensions of the father-child relationship and children's well-being and development. We conclude by discussing promising avenues of scholarship for the next generation of research on fatherhood.