Child(hood) As a Successful Product of New Fatherhood?: Changing Relations in the Inner Space of Family

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Nicole KIRCHHOFF, TU Dortmund, Germany
The family as a primary authority of socialisation is changing. This change is negotiated in public and private discourses and can be pinned down within a new and active understanding of fatherhood. In my paper I reconstruct concepts of families by considering representations of parenthood through photographs as well as couple-interviews. The concepts of families are marked by the coexistence of modern and traditional elements, especially regarding the father’s position. I based my research first on mass media pictures of fatherhood and second on interviews with heterosexual couples from East and West-Germany. The used method is a combination of the biographical-couple-interview and group discussions. In my paper I will follow the question of how the politically intended - and socially approved - gender discourse affects the position of the child within the social space of the family. The evaluation of interview excerpts is realized by the documentary method of Interpretation. My input suggests that the position of the child within the family triad, as well as the parental expectations that are marked by envisioning a “successful” or “soon to be successful child”, are becoming more expressed. In my paper I will discuss: 1. how this process occurs along the backdrop of gender, 2. how does parental history and experiences lead to orientations that are manifesting themselves in the child, and 3. how this assumed re-evaluation (higher value) of the position of the child suppresses unsolved problems and obvious needs for action within the couple.