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"We're Parents Too!" Changes in Father Involvement in Domestic Labor Among Urban Middle Class Dual-worker Couples

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12084

"We're Parents Too!" Changes in Father Involvement in Domestic Labor Among Urban Middle Class Dual-worker Couples

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Title: "We're Parents Too!" Changes in Father Involvement in Domestic Labor Among Urban Middle Class Dual-worker Couples
Author: Jolie, Ruth Burgett
Advisor(s): Lamphere, Louise
Brulotte, Ronda
Committee Member(s): Hossain, Zia
Tiano, Susan
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Anthropology
Subject(s): Gender
Families
Urban anthropology
Domestic labor
Religiosity
Middle class
Fathers as parents
LC Subject(s): Dual-career families--Attitudes
Child rearing--Social aspects
Housekeeping--Social aspects
Parents--Attitudes
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate fathers’ involvement in domestic labor among middle class, dual-worker families in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I argue that men’s participation in domestic labor is affected by their parental identities. Three things influence parental identity: (1) demographics, including socioeconomic position, age, race/ethnicity, (2) religiosity, meaning ones adherence to religious values and participation in a formal religious institution (Wilcox 2002:781), and (3) parental ideology, denoting the belief structure surrounding what a parent ought to do. Demography and religiosity are themselves mediated by parental ideology, and in turn also further shape, parental ideology. Parental ideology directly influences parental identity. How an individual identifies as a parent determines his or her parental involvement in the family, including housework and childcare. I discuss how fathers’ identities and the structural forces, such as family background, education, and employment, affect the division of household labor. Data from my ethnographic study indicate that although certain household tasks remain gender-specific, men are doing more household tasks, especially childcare, than previous research suggests. Importantly, both men and women emphasize being in a partnership, which enforces egalitarian ideals. There has been a shift in men’s perception of the father role, with men strongly identifying as fathers and placing importance on this role. These changes are a consequence of a general shift in gender roles, towards a more egalitarian understanding. However, women of childbearing age are viewed as mothers—over any other role— first, which assists in explaining why women appear to embrace more traditional gender roles than their husbands. I address how an individual’s degree of religiosity influences their understanding of gender roles, and their enactment of those roles as “parent.” Those with high degrees of religiosity that belong to a Conservative Christian group tend to be less egalitarian in parenting and their perception of the fatherhood role than other Christians. Mainstream Protestants are most similar to agnostics, and even Catholics with high religiosity are more egalitarian in their father role than Conservative Christians. I conclude by proposing a selection of policy recommendations in order to assist not just the dual-working middle-class father, but American families as a whole.
Graduation Date: December 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12084

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