Towards a Comparative Account of Scottish and Romanian Involved Fathering

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Alexandra MACHT, dr., United Kingdom
Europe is a vast assembly of different cultures wherein family lives unfold according to a variety of classed practices. As representatives of the West and the East of Europe, Scottish and Romanian involved fathers practice fathering in slightly different ways even if they have similar conceptions of what constitutes intimate fathering. Drawing from empirical research based on 47 qualitative interviews with Scottish and Romanian resident and non-resident, working-class and middle-class fathers, I attempt to trace the differences and similarities in how involved fathers love their children and how in the process they re-create their masculine identity. As they shift between the provider role to the nurturing father, men also shift emotionally from stoicism to increased intimacy. However the varied socio-economic influences and relational pressures that exist in their cultural environment create different expectations. It has been argued that Scottish fathers are characterized by the cultural values of grit an autonomy and Romanian fathers by those of warmth and collectivism, but the findings of my research show that fathers believe that loving their children will help them develop into individuals which expound the reverse of such cultural prerogatives: that their Romanian children can become more confident and active in their social environment, and that their Scottish children can become more warm and sociable. Scottish fathers in their role as romantic partners also value individualism, while Romanian fathers prize a shared sense of collective identity. Therefore, using the incremental transformation of European fathering as a background, in this paper I will present the different construction of masculine emotionality according to a relatively neglected sample of European fathers: Scottish and Romanian ones. This serves to unmask the role of collectivism and individualism in reshaping the culture of parenthood, particularly in respect to (and following from Hochschild’s conceptualization) the increasing commodification of intimate life.