Project PARENTS (Phase 2)

Making Mothers and Fathers.
Gender and the Differentiation and De-Differentiation
of Prenatal Parenthood

This sub-project analyses processes of gender differentiation in the field of private life. It focuses on a specific phase of partner relationships, namely the transition to parenthood before and during a pregnancy. The central question is how the postnatal differentiation of the roles "mother" and "father" is rooted in the time of pregnancy. How and when, if at all, are doing gender and doing parenting linked or disassociated? After having analysed factors of re-traditionalisation in the division of labour of (traditional and post-traditional) heterosexual couples in the first phase of the project, the second phase of the project follows up on its central question in two respects: On the one hand, our inquiry will be extended to the background of the pregnancy, i.e. to the pregnancy as it is situated in the context of the couples relationship and history, and on the other hand, to the gendering of parental positions (mother and father). To this end, we will analyse five variations of constellations of relationships: Our main focus lies on lesbian and gay couples, while couples in fertility treatment, single-mothers and transsexual parents are observed and taken into account as comparative cases. By means of this gender varying research design, the sub-project aims at exploring the mechanisms of gender attribution in the process of starting a family. Under which circumstances is gender relevant to parenthood and when is it outweighed by gender indifferent parental commitment?