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  • Author or Editor: Elin Kvande x
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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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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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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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The chapter directs attention to work-life balance after the leave, asking what consequences the leave experience has for fathers’ work involvement. The fathers describe becoming a father and caring for a one-year old as an emotional and existential experience that have changed them as men. The question posed in the chapter, is what consequences this experience has for their efforts and time-use at work. Judging from the literature, reduction in working hours is rarely an option for men, but the changes reported by the fathers, impact on their boundary management between home and work. Several strategies are used to reduce the time demands of work in order to benefit time with their children, and four such strategies are described.

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This article highlights the importance of social policy and working life contexts for employed fathers’ use of parental leave. It directs attention towards the Norwegian model, which is known for its gender equality aims and welfare-state support to families, but which is also active in the regulation of working life. Based on interviews with fathers who have used the father’s quota, findings run counter to work-family research where gendered assumptions in work organizations are found to prevent active fathering. The interviewed fathers report positive attitudes and supportive practices among employers. Fathers’ stories show that their use of the leave is subject to cooperation and compromising processes at the workplace level that research on fatherhood and organizations have hardly addressed.

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The development of parental leave policies was the most important area of expansion for the Norwegian welfare state in the 1990s. Schemes were extended, and special rights were granted to fathers. This chapter shows how fathers in various male-dominated work organizations relate to the obligation to take leave at a time when the father’s quota was in its infancy. It underscores the importance of work context as well as personal agency and perceptions. Four different leave practices are described, and they show variations in how seriously the fathers and their work organizations relate to the new policy, and how they adapt to it. Some opposition is demonstrated, but there are clear indications that something is set in motion by the introduction of the father’s quota.

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This chapter is based on interviews with middle managers in engineering who have used the father’s quota. It explores their experiences with taking leave for their career development. The concepts “availability” and “irreplaceability”, which are often applied in studies of the career logic, are here used to analyze these fathers’ experiences with childcare and work. By making themselves continuously available for their babies while home on leave the managers find themselves irreplaceable in caregiving rather than at work. They experience that being replaceable at work need not have any consequences for their career development. The chapter discusses how this might be a sign of shift in the career logic.

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Many of the Nordic countries have designed parental leave policies in ways that can promote participation of fathers in child care. Norway was the first country to introduce a father-specific leave quota in 1993. This quota is non-transferable and generously paid, and Norway has functioned as a sort of laboratory for testing such radical policies. This book is a collection of research publications from three studies conducted at various stages since the introduction of the quota. It looks at its various design characteristics and possible consequences such as take-up, framing of the leave, what fathers do when on leave, how they develop as caregivers and competent parents, how working life relates to male employees with care obligations in terms of parental leave, how fathers adapt their leave to work and how immigrant fathers relate to the laws and expectations directed to fathers in Norway. Although the chapters are based on different qualitative studies, they show changes in employed men’s fathering practices over the years and how the parental leave design may have contributed to this change.

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This concluding chapter discusses the ways in which the parental leave design in terms of the father’s quota may have consequences for change in fatherhood and caregiving and thus for the wider processes of change towards a dual earner/dual carer model. It highlights change in fathers’ sense of entitlement to leave, which has made it into a norm. Aspects such as flexible use and the possibility for mothers to stay home are identified to harm the process of change towards dual caring. A focus on the content of the leave identifies further aspects of change in the father-child relation and care competence of fathers in the direction of caring masculinities. Working life’s supportive role contributes to placing a change of the ideal worker norm within sight.

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