|dc.description.abstract||Sweden is one of the countries where an ideal of a more “involved fatherhood” dominates both on the political level and on the level of individual attitudes, but where despite this, fathers largely continue to assume a secondary role as parents in relation to mothers. The aim of this study was to explore and analyze how fathers construct their fatherhood and enact their fathering in this area of tension between the involved fatherhood ideal and its practice, and to do this in a way that better reflected the diversity of fathering experiences in contemporary Sweden than has been done in previous studies so far. The research questions focused on how these fathers describe their fathering practices in relation to their ideals of “good fatherhood”; how they discuss their parental involvement in relation to the involvement of their children’s mother; and how their accounts can be interpreted as expressions of gender and class. The theoretical point of departure included the notion that fatherhood is constructed through “fathering” practices, and that these practices blend with other practices such as those of gender and class. Moreover, all these practices can serve the purpose of positioning oneself in the hierarchies of fatherhoods, masculinities and social groups. The empirical data of the study was collected via twelve semi-structured interviews with fathers whose demographic characteristics partly lived up to the study’s intension of reflecting diversity. Although the sample ended up slightly biased towards fathers in intact families who identified themselves as part of the middle-class, the study contributes to the field of fatherhood research in that it moves away from the ideas that involved fathering practices should be studied as a middle-class phenomenon and that its implications for gender equality need to be studied in nuclear families.
The findings of the study confirm that the discourses of gender equality and involved fatherhood dominate the way contemporary fathers in Sweden talk about and enact their fathering, which has been pointed out in previous research on fatherhood. However, the findings indicate that the gap between involved fatherhood ideals and practice was smaller in this sample of fathers than has been suggested in most previous studies. These fathers reported taking an active role in all aspects of childcare and not only “the fun parts”, and most of them also made an effort to present their fathering as ungendered by emphasizing their interchangeability and their equivalence as parents in relation to the mother of their children. Moreover, the study shows that the fathers, by presenting the organizational structure and attitudes in their workplace as obstacles for their involvement in childcare, could in fact strengthen their image as truly involved fathers, because these were obstacles that they had overcome. This also meant that the involved fathering of fathers who had a less privileged position in the labor market, and therefore either couldn’t or didn’t have to make the choice between family and career, was not as highly valued. Finally, it is suggested that the involved fathering practices described in this study represent fathers’ child-centeredness rather than their commitment to gender equality but that even so it may contribute to a more gender equal division of labor in the domestic sphere in the long run.||sv