Love and Family: Discussions Between Swedish Men and Women Concerning the Transition to Parenthood

Disa Bergnéhr


This study is an exploration of how young Swedish adults talk about intimate relationships and the transition to parenthood. It is suggested that people carefully reflect over their relationship with their partner before deciding to embark on parenthood, and it is shown that reproductive decision making is imbued with contradictory ideals that may cause stress and anxiety. To have and to raise a child in a nuclear family arrangement is one prominent ideal that is illuminated by this study, but parallel with this is the notion of intimate relationships breaking down, dwindling. These two discourses are contradictory and create dilemmas in the process of family formation. Some individuals find the risk of relationship dissolution especially stressful, drawing on their own childhood experiences of growing up with separated parents. This is a study based on focus group interviews containing men and women, ranging from 24 to 39 years old, with different educational, occupational and geographical backgrounds; some are parents and some are not. The data are analysed using a discourse analytical approach, and much of the discussion is based on Anthony GIDDENS', Zygmunt BAUMAN's and Ulrich BECK and Elisabeth BECK-GERNSHEIM's reasoning about love and intimacy in the contemporary Western world.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0701239


love; family; parenthood; relationship dissolution; focus groups; discourse analysis

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Copyright (c) 2007 Disa Bergnéhr

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