This book takes a life course perspective, analysing and comparing the biographies of mothers and fathers in seven European countries in context. Based on an innovative, cross-national EU study, it examines the ways in which working parents negotiate the transition to parenthood and attempt to find a 'work-life balance'.
Using in-depth qualitative biographical data, the book offers a deep understanding of working parents' real lives by locating them within diverse national, workplace and family contexts. It provides rich insights into how policies and practices at the institutional level play out in individual and family lives, how they shape the decisions during both transition phases and in parents' daily experiences of juggling work and family life. It highlights some difficult and complex issues about the sustainability of contemporary working practices for bringing up children that are highly relevant in times of economic retrenchment.
'Transitions to parenthood in Europe' will be of interest to an academic readership at all levels of the social sciences, as well as employers, managers, trade unions and policy makers.
Ann Nilsen is Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology, University of Bergen, Norway. Her extensive research experience is in areas of life course and biographical methods and transitions in the life course.
Julia Brannen is Professor of Sociology of the family at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education UK. Her research interests include gender and work-family issues, intergenerational relationships and research methodology. She is co-founder and co-editor of the International Journal of Social Research Methodology
Suzan Lewis is Professor of Organisational Psychology at the Department of Human Resource Management at Middlesex University Business School UK. Among her research themes are work-personal life issues, workplace practice and social policy issues. She is founder and former editor of the journal Community Work and Family.
Introduction ~ Ann Nilsen, Julia Brannen, Suzan Lewis; Cross-national comparisons: the history-biography link ~ Ann Nilsen; Methodological approaches, practice and reflection ~ Julia Brannen, Ann Nilsen; Comparing transitions to motherhood across contexts ~Ann Nilsen, Maria dos Dores Guerreiro, Siyka Kovacheva, Janet Smithson; Comparing transitions to fatherhood across contexts ~Lars Plantin, Margareta Bäck-Wicklund, Siyka Kovacheva and Maria das Dores Guerreiro; Supports and constraints for parents: a gendered cross-national perspective ~ Janet Smithson, Suzan Lewis, Siyka Kovacheva, Laura den Dulk, Bram Peper, Anneke van Doorne-Huiskes; being a working parent in the present: case comparisons in time and place ~ Julia Brannen and Nevenka Sadar Černigoj; Discussion and conclusions ~ Suzan Lewis, Ann Nilsen, Julia Brannen.
"very insightful book...crucial to understanding the phenomenon of working parenthood...underlines the potential positive effects of the economic downturn" Rosy Musumeci, University of Turin
"This collaborative study provides a subtle and multi-layered understanding of the transition to parenthood within a cross-national comparative framework. Here is a study which is heartily recommended not only to researchers and students of family and social policy but also to those interested in the practice and promise of comparative analysis." Emeritus Professor David Morgan, Morgan Centre for the Study of Relationships and Personal Life, University of Manchester