Publication details


Do the Right Thing! Do Fathers at Childbirth Bring Diversity to Gender Relations?

Basic information
Original title:Do the Right Thing! Do Fathers at Childbirth Bring Diversity to Gender Relations?
Author:Iva Šmídová
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Original language:English
Field:Sociology, demography
Type:Chapter of a book
Keywords:gender realtions; childbirth; fatherhood; fathers; normativity; diversity; dominance

The chapter discusses challenges to gender relations brought by the change of praxes at childbirth for the context of the Czech Republic. It argues that potential diversity of these practices, stimulated by normative expectations for fathers to accompany their child-to-be-born and to support their spouses hinders at least several trends towards more gender equal relations in the birthing room. The analysis is based on a small scale sociological qualitative inquiry, interview accounts with (28) couples describing the childbirth of their first child where both parents were present. Research approach concentrated on the event of the childbirth and gender relevant aspects of this passage to the stage of family life with a newborn, and on re/productive mechanisms of gender while monitoring expectations and later coping strategies of these parents. The theoretical context of the research is set within sociological gender studies, gendered structure of society and its reproduction and change (Harding, Connell, Bourdieu). Four main thematic areas connected to the birth are analyzed: 1. Fathers at the childbirth as a new norm; 2. Confronting the stock of knowledge at hand on childbirth; 3. Gender stereotyping accounts: protection of a lonely woman; 4. Who is the key actor there? These themes are set within more structural approach to mechanisms re/producing the gender order, enhancing diversity, and reviewing hegemonic practices of biomedicine (contemporary western medicine). The outcomes from the recently finished empirical study are offered for a critical reflection here.

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