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Re-gendering Care in the UK: the experiences of male primary carers

Re-gendering Care in the UK: the experiences of male primary carers
Re-gendering Care in the UK: the experiences of male primary carers
Childcare is a set of practices laden with gender and other inequalities, as it is constructed on the conceptual dualism of paid work/unpaid work that privileges one end of the binary and devalues the other. Feminist authors have highlighted the necessity of making men’s lives more like women’s in combining work and care. This study uses ethnographic methods to explore the experiences of fathers (n=27) who are the main carers of their children. The purpose is to provide an understanding of the places in which childcare challenges the gendered work/non-work binary and is thus “queered”. I use the philosophical building blocks of Deleuze and Guattari (2004) to discuss the participants’ “becomings”: the unmaking of identities and the constant re-making of new ones that are fluid and emerge from practices.

The study is comprised of three areas of focus that revolve around three major obstacles in male primary caring: work-based masculinities, the mother as the quintessential carer, and the lack of childcare spaces that are not gender-coded. First, I discuss the role of paid work to the participants’ lives. Despite the strong association between masculinities and paid work, the participants seemed to actively challenge neoliberal work ethic and to carve out their own spaces that allowed them to prioritize and value childcare.

Second, I looked into the participants’ embodied experiences of childcare and how they built bonds with their children that were as intimate as the mothers’. They employed the same haptic and affective means as mothers do and engaged in a ‘becoming-carer’, a process that challenges binary distinctions and allows identities to emerge instead of prescribing them.

Finally, I discussed the experiences that the participants had in the various places they frequented. Moving in feminized places proved to be both a blessing and a curse, as they were received with overwhelming praise and, at the same time, treated as ‘aliens’. The lack of connection to both mothers and other fathers was indicative of their in-betweeness, of their liminal position that challenged binary spaces and urged them to create new ones.

These findings contribute to the geographies of childcare in the UK and add to a journey towards the democratization care through the cultivation of a growing care ethic.
University of Southampton
Bourantani, Eleni Anna
e529ce99-d1bd-4a5e-b816-d5cb0ea33f4f
Bourantani, Eleni Anna
e529ce99-d1bd-4a5e-b816-d5cb0ea33f4f
Power, Andrew
b3a1ee09-e381-413a-88ac-7cb3e13b3acc

Bourantani, Eleni Anna (2018) Re-gendering Care in the UK: the experiences of male primary carers. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 216pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Childcare is a set of practices laden with gender and other inequalities, as it is constructed on the conceptual dualism of paid work/unpaid work that privileges one end of the binary and devalues the other. Feminist authors have highlighted the necessity of making men’s lives more like women’s in combining work and care. This study uses ethnographic methods to explore the experiences of fathers (n=27) who are the main carers of their children. The purpose is to provide an understanding of the places in which childcare challenges the gendered work/non-work binary and is thus “queered”. I use the philosophical building blocks of Deleuze and Guattari (2004) to discuss the participants’ “becomings”: the unmaking of identities and the constant re-making of new ones that are fluid and emerge from practices.

The study is comprised of three areas of focus that revolve around three major obstacles in male primary caring: work-based masculinities, the mother as the quintessential carer, and the lack of childcare spaces that are not gender-coded. First, I discuss the role of paid work to the participants’ lives. Despite the strong association between masculinities and paid work, the participants seemed to actively challenge neoliberal work ethic and to carve out their own spaces that allowed them to prioritize and value childcare.

Second, I looked into the participants’ embodied experiences of childcare and how they built bonds with their children that were as intimate as the mothers’. They employed the same haptic and affective means as mothers do and engaged in a ‘becoming-carer’, a process that challenges binary distinctions and allows identities to emerge instead of prescribing them.

Finally, I discussed the experiences that the participants had in the various places they frequented. Moving in feminized places proved to be both a blessing and a curse, as they were received with overwhelming praise and, at the same time, treated as ‘aliens’. The lack of connection to both mothers and other fathers was indicative of their in-betweeness, of their liminal position that challenged binary spaces and urged them to create new ones.

These findings contribute to the geographies of childcare in the UK and add to a journey towards the democratization care through the cultivation of a growing care ethic.

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Published date: January 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 419533
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/419533
PURE UUID: 8afba9ec-e413-4bc2-a9ff-2375ce6c3bc7

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Date deposited: 13 Apr 2018 16:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 18:42

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