Transitions Towards Equality: Sociological Analysis of Contemporary Irish Fathering
A recurring theme across scholarship on fathers and the family is that gender equality has ‘stalled’ because of a lack of understanding of men’s relationship to family life. Deutsch (2007) proposes that the ‘missing’ piece in gender equality research is the potential of interactional levels in society, to embrace changes in attitudes and practices, providing opportunity for ‘undoing’ gender, i.e. embracing beliefs and behaviours that reduce gender difference in families, thus advancing gender equality.
This paper discusses the findings of a qualitative study, conducted with fathers in stable relationships and resident with their children. Utilising, thematic analysis of the data, it examined how fatherhood is constructed and practiced, and specifically explores the extent and nature of involved fathering as described by Pleck (2012). Fathers’ engagement with their children is examined as part of a process of ‘undoing’ gender difference (Deutsch, 2007), i.e. as it contributes to gender equality. ‘Undoing’ gender was explored within the interactional context of family life by examining the extent to which fathers’ attitudes and practices in relation to childcare embrace inclusive rather than separate roles for parents.