Fathering and Privileges Among White, Heterosexual, Highly Educated Men in the Netherlands

Dr. Carole Ammann (University of Amsterdam): öffentlicher Vortrag im Rahmen des Forschungskolloquiums Ethnologie

Datum: 19. Oktober 2021
Zeit: 16.15 Uhr bis 17.45 Uhr
Ort: Universität Luzern, Raum 3.B48

“As a Father, I Like to Develop and Grow” – Fathering and Privileges among White, Heterosexual, Highly Educated Men in the Netherlands

Carole Ammann, postdoctoral mobility fellow, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam
Paula Vermuë, junior lecturer, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam

How to be a ‘good’ father is a recurrent topic of reflection for all the White, heterosexual and highly educated fathers living in the urban Netherlands we refer to in this presentation. As the title of our presentation illustrates, ‘being a father’ is a central aspect of their lives and their identities as men; they put much time and energy in developing a close bond to their children – regardless of their age, level of employment, and family constellation. The topic of fathering is not only alive in the individual experiences of Dutch fathers, it also attracted more and more attention from public and private organisations. The Netherlands have for a long time been dominated by a strong motherhood ideology as mothers were expected to stay at home with the children. In the last three decades however, the Dutch government has made attempts to increase the fathers’ involvement in the upbringing of their children, for example through policies that allow for a better combination of work and care duties, such as the introduction or the prolongation of a paternity leave, the comprehensive introduction of day- care facilities, and the possibilities to work part-time. This resulted in the one-and-a-half-earner model

– that is, many fathers working four to five days and a lot of mothers working part-time.

In this presentation, we will focus on the fathers who reflect the ‘caring father’ image in those policies and are considered as ‘progressive’ in the urban Dutch context. Our aim is to provide a nuanced picture on how they understand, experience, negotiate, and enact fathering in urban Netherlands. We further analyse what they consider as ‘good’ fathering practices. Thereby, we rely on interviews conducted with 32 heterosexual, highly educated, White, middle-class fathers living in the Netherlands. Because they dispose of enough resources and capacities to reflect on and discuss about what they consider to be best for their children, we use the lens of privileges to analyse their fathering ideas and practices. We approach privileges in the Netherlands not as fixed but as relational; something that is constantly made and remade. In this presentation, we are analysing the outcomes of those enabling structures of privileges in influencing ideas and everyday practices of fathering regarding choices, comforts, accesses, opportunities and ambitions, but also ambiguities and challenges.