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  • Author or Editor: Berit Brandth x
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The co-location of home and work could enable parents to balance work and family life, but research has given contradictory results in regard to fathers who work at home. This article explores how the co-location of home and work in family farming affects fathers’ involvement in childcare. Interviews were conducted with two generations of fathers in seven families who have lived and worked on the same farm. Results showed significant differences between the two generations. The older generation of fathers integrated childcare into work, while the current generation more often fathers in domestic spaces rather than work spaces. Moreover, father–child interaction now takes place away from the farm as well. This study demonstrates that the significance of the co-location of home and work for fathering depends on shifting cultural and social contexts, and underscores fathering practices as relational, contingent and variable.

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This chapter is concerned with two aspects of fathering practices in Norway. First, how they use parental leave, and second, what they do when they are home on leave, ie how they practice childcare. The analysis draws on the concept of ‘fathering practices’ developed from David Morgan’s ‘family practices’. Based on interviews with 30 couples, findings show distinct class differences in fathers’ take-up pattern of parental leave. Working class fathers are more inclined to take shorter leave with the mother home at the same time. Middle class fathers tend to take longer leave while the mother goes back to full-time work. The analysis demonstrates how fathering practices are related to their take-up patterns and thus how fathering as a practice is class related. Both classes define parental leave for fathers in ways that fit with their values; and thus it is embedded in the type of care project that parents in the different classes are practicing.

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Norway was the first country to reserve part of paid parental leave for fathers, making it a leader in parental leave policies and fathers’ rights. From the 1970s, gender-neutral parental leave has been available for fathers, but few had taken up this opportunity to share parental leave with mothers. In 1993, the fathers’ quota gave fathers an exclusive right to four weeks of parental leave which could not be transferred to the mother. From its very start, the fathers’ quota proved to be a success, judging by its high take-up rate. Several other countries have since followed Norway’s lead, however the Norwegian case is interesting because Norway had long been regarded as the most conservative of the Nordic countries with respect to employment for women and ECEC services for children. This chapter explores how the construction of statutory parental leave rights for fathers can be explained in the Norwegian context by looking at the debates before their introduction. The point of departure is the characteristics of the Norwegian welfare state, which strongly influenced family policies. The chapter also considers how the political parties in Norway managed to achieve political consensus on this issue. It also considers the influence of the men’s movement, particularly the Committee on Men’s Role that was active in the late 1980s.

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This chapter is about flexibility in the use of Parental Leave. Many countries aiming at greater father involvement in early childcare have introduced flexible leave designs allowing Parental Leave to be taken over an extended period either on a part-time basis or split into shorter blocks. This chapter examines flexible use of the non-transferable quota for fathers in Norway and its effects on fathers’ caregiving. Results show that in choosing part-time leave fathers make themselves available for work, something that often creates stressful situations and interrupts their caregiving. Part-time use assumes that the mother is available, and thus it tends to confirm her as the primary caregiver. Taking the leave in blocks has less negative effects depending on the length of the blocks. The study relates to the Norwegian situation, but the knowledge produced may be relevant to other countries that are in the process of introducing flexible leave for fathers with gender equality in mind.

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The Norway Model and the Changing Face of Fatherhood
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Nordic countries lead the way in facilitating better work-family integration through their design of parental leave policies that encourage men towards life courses with greater care responsibilities.

Based on original research, this compelling book offers a novel analysis of the everyday parental practices of fathers and parents in Norway as a way of understanding the workings of labour market and welfare policies, whilst considering how migrant fathers might relate to the expectations such laws generate. The authors showcase how this style of men’s care work constitutes a re-gendering of men by promoting ‘caring masculinities’.

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This chapter starts with a presentation of the rationale of the book. It describes the leave policy development in Norway, which has gone from an early focus on motherhood to equal rights to fatherhood. The take-up patterns, which have been high for the father’s quota, are described. The political debates have been hard with earmarked rights being confronted with free choice, and extensions of fathers’ rights against mothers’ rights and breastfeeding.

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In most countries, parental leave systems consist of several parts with different lengths for fathers and/or mothers. We compare fathers’ sense of entitlement to two parts of the Norwegian leave policy available to them, namely the individual, non-transferable father’s quota and the shared parental leave. The objective is to gain knowledge of the rationale for fathers’ different take-ups of the two types of leave. Analysis of interviews with 22 fathers shows culturally divergent understandings of the two types of leave among fathers. Using the concept of ‘entitlement’ as theoretical lens, we find that fathers feel entitled to the father’s quota based on gender equality norms in working life and the wider society. Fathers do to a much smaller degree feel entitled to the shared parental leave, which is culturally understood as mothers’ entitlement. This understanding is, however, challenged by some fathers’ claim to the shared leave based on their being competent parents.

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Research has documented that fathers in countries with individualized, non-transferable parental leave policies take leave to a greater extent than in other countries. Studies have not, however, explored the processes of constructing these outcomes. We have investigated this issue by means of interviews with middle-class immigrant fathers from various European countries to Norway. The ‘outsider-within’ perspective represented by immigrants’ experiences is our intake to understanding this. Results show that the principle of earmarking and non-transferability combined with a generous income compensation is experienced as a great possibility to care for children and perceived as important. It is in comparison with the care regimes of their homelands that this insight becomes perceptible. These results can be seen as supporting the tendency to convergence, not in the actual care policies, but in the attitudes toward parental leave held by the fathers from these countries.

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Research on work-family balance has seen flexible work arrangements as a key solution for reconciling work and family, but it has given contradictory results regarding fathers. This chapter focuses on flexible parental leave use for fathers in Norway. It is based on interviews with 20 fathers who have used the father’s quota flexibly either as part-time combined with part-time leave or as piecemeal leave. The study describes the motives for using flexible leave and the consequences of the two types of flexibility for fathers’ caregiving. Flexibility provides them with a menu of choices, which affects their caregiving differently. Findings show that part-time leave allows work to invade care, produces a double stress and promotes halfway fathering. It tends to confirm fathers as secondary caregivers instead of empowering them as primary caregivers.

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This chapter focuses on fathers who took parental leave before they were granted earmarked rights. Fathers taking parental leave were rare at that time. The chapter explores how they include caregiving in their construction of masculinity. Using an interactionist perspective, viewing mothers and fathers as negotiating their caregiving roles, we find that fathers assert masculine identity by using several strategies. One of them is shaping their form of care-work differently from mothers’ interaction with the child. Another is defining caregiving as an extension of the “masculine sphere” of the outdoors. Both mothers and fathers, however, take part in the process of reproducing masculinity as normative by giving masculine care higher status than women’s care work. Care-giving activities are adopted by the hegemonic form of masculinity with its strong connection to paid work.

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