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When Husbands and Wives Don’t Agree, who ‘Wins’? Value/Practice Dissonance in the Division of Work Around Parenthood in Italy

Fathers, Childcare and Work: Cultures, Practices and Policies

ISBN: 978-1-78743-042-6, eISBN: 978-1-78743-041-9

ISSN: 1530-3535

Publication date: 1 June 2018

Abstract

During the transition to parenthood, the gender division of paid and unpaid work undergoes a profound redefinition in response to both attitudes and resources. These attitudes may be concordant or discordant between two partners, they may or may not clash with perceived financial or labour market constraints, and they may or may not provoke explicit conflicts and negotiations. In this study, by combining quantitative and qualitative data, we focus on Italian couples with young children or in transition to first child, and we explore what happens when partners have discordant views. The findings show that the division of domestic and care work seems more resistant to change and more responsive to the husband’s attitudes than does the division of paid work, as the latter is mainly driven by the woman’s education and attitudes. The findings also show that very few couples overtly disagree. If they do so, the main issue in dispute is the allocation of domestic work and the main solution consists more in hiring external help than in obtaining the husband’s greater participation. Compared with domestic work, the allocation of care is a less disputed and more flexible issue: when women start negotiations on a more equal sharing, men are more willing to increase their participation. However, when a more equal sharing is not attained, couples’ narratives tend to give the “cause” to the constraints of the man (typically his work) than of the woman, while they point at a redefinition (for the best of the family) of her rather than his preferences.

Keywords

Citation

Naldini, M. and Solera, C. (2018), "When Husbands and Wives Don’t Agree, who ‘Wins’? Value/Practice Dissonance in the Division of Work Around Parenthood in Italy", Musumeci, R. and Santero, A. (Ed.) Fathers, Childcare and Work: Cultures, Practices and Policies (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Vol. 12), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 45-76. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1530-353520180000012003

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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