Caring is Sharing?

Couples navigating parental leave at the transition to parenthood

Katherine Twamley


ISBN: 9781800087408

Publication: November 01, 2024

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Caring is Sharing? explores why and how mixed-sex couples make decisions around parental leave at the transition to parenthood, and how these decisions shape their work and family care practices during and after the leave period. It does this through a longitudinal qualitative comparative analysis of mixed-sex parent couples in England who do and do not share parental leave after the birth of their first child. The study shows that men and women’s visions and practices of family life are embedded in ideals of appropriate intimate relations, and negotiated with real and imagined reactions from peers, wider family and colleagues. These negotiations are often deeply emotional and shape how parents navigate the wider institutional and structural context in the UK, where parental leave policy, family and work norms are highly gendered. The book shows that practices of couple intimacy in the UK influence the imaginaries of new parents and the processes through which they enact divisions of parental leave and ultimately of care. In so doing, it highlights the intersections of intimacy and equality, contributing to debate around the ‘stalled’ gender revolution and what is needed if UK parental leave policy is to become an effective driver of change in gender relations and family life.

Katherine Twamley is Professor of Sociology at the UCL Social Research Institute.

Lists of figures and tables
Key terms
Notes on transcription

1 The promise of shared parental leave: introduction to the study

Part I Decisions around parental leave
2 Encountering barriers to the take-up of shared parental leave: ‘non-sharers’
3 Why and how some couples decide to share leave: ‘sharers’

Part II Experiences of the leave period
4 Non-sharers’ experiences and practices during the first year after their child is born
5 Leave sharers’ experiences and practices during the first year after their child is born

Part III After the leave is over
6 Breadwinning fathers and primary care mothers
7 Mothers as family managers
8 Parents sharing responsibilities of paid and unpaid work
9 Does shared parental leave live up to its promise?

Concluding thoughts

Appendix: Analysis methods

Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

266 Pages

1 B&W photo/halftone and 2 B&W tables

Copyright: © 2023

ISBN: 9781800087408

Publication: November 01, 2024

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