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Against the Grain
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Drawing on findings from interviews done with 32 families living in cities across Canada, Ranson challenges dominant understandings of mothering and fathering by looking closely at how couples who have opted for less traditional divisions of labour negotiate their parental and household responsibilities. Included are interviews with breadwinner mothers and caregiver fathers, and with dual-earner couples, both heterosexual and same-sex, who struggle to share equally in the nurture and support of their families. A central claim of the book is that, to the extent that both parents are equally involved in hands-on caregiving, they tend to become, over time, functionally interchangeable and move away from "mothering" and "fathering," and toward parenting. Against the Grain offers us an excellent opportunity to examine how social change happens at the forefront of family life.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Part I. Setting the Scene Introduction 1. Establishing the Context 2. The Study Part II. Getting Started: Caring for Children in the Preschool Years Introduction 3. The "Crossovers": Breadwinner Mothers with Partners at Home 4. "Shift-Workers" and "Dual-Dividers": Sharing Earning, Sharing Caring Part III. The Longer View: Couples with School-Age Children Introduction 5. Challenges on the Path to Change 6. Parents as Peers Part IV. Review and Reflection Introduction 7. Parenting and the Undoing of Gender Appendix: The Study Participants Notes References Index

Promotional Information

An exciting, fresh, and timely look at the experiences of mothers and fathers who challenge dominant cultural expectations in their efforts to share in the care of their children. Ranson's analysis offers a new way of thinking about parenting that steps outside of conventional gendered understandings of mothering and fathering. It will have a significant impact on sociological theorizing in the area and provides thought-provoking material for family-sociology courses at the senior undergraduate and graduate levels. -- Glenda Wall, Wilfrid Laurier University In this very readable book, Ranson has challenged conventional understandings of how little has changed with respect to the gender division of labour in Canadian families, by focusing on couples who no longer follow the dominant gender script. This book is especially interesting for its detailed accounts of the challenges and adjustments that arise as couples who undo gender follow their chosen paths. It is also theoretically interesting because it shows that the allocation of work in families is not simply the result of the pressures of institutionalized expectations but is also the result of particular philosophical and practical conditions that in turn create pressures for changing established expectations. -- David Cheal, University of Winnipeg

About the Author

Gillian Ranson is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Calgary. She has written numerous articles on gender and parenting.

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