Wednesday 18 March 2020
16.30 - 18.30
Towards Involved and Caring Fathers? The History of Fatherhood in 20th-century Eastern and Western Europe
Peter Hallama :
Caring Fathers and Emotions: a Socialist Model?
Women and Gender
Peter Hallama, Natalia Jarska
Revolutionizing the family had been an important part of the socialist project since the 19th century. Several studies have shown the attempt to liberate women through extra-domestic work and the collectivization of housework and childcare. However, few have analyzed the figure of the father in the (future) socialist family. Though, ... (Show more)
Revolutionizing the family had been an important part of the socialist project since the 19th century. Several studies have shown the attempt to liberate women through extra-domestic work and the collectivization of housework and childcare. However, few have analyzed the figure of the father in the (future) socialist family. Though, paternal authority and his power to bequeath property lay at the basis of the critique of capitalism, for instance in Friedrich Engels’ writings.
Engels believed that equality between man and woman would be established if private property was abandoned. The utopian socialist Charles Fourier suggested equally to “exempt” fathers from “material worries.” Furthermore, they should be released from all the “repugnant” components of education (authority, reprimand, punishment). Only then could they build an intense, emotional relationship with their children, based on mutual love. At the turn of the century, German socialist feminists such as Käte Duncker and Clara Zetkin combined too the critique of (capitalist) industrialization with an appeal for a “new” fatherhood: They condemned 19th-century industrialization for having “taken the father away” from his family and proposed, as being part of the new, proletarian family, to bring him back into childcare and education, for these were considered as being shared responsibilities of mother and father.
“Socialist fatherhood” was not a stable entity in history and its understanding evolved over time. However, the idea of equality (between man and woman as well as between parents and child) and the idea of a relationship based not on material constraints, but on emotions, remained one of its central elements.
This idea was reinforced in socialist countries, for instance within marriage counselling or in advice books. In socialist psychology and educational theory, father involvement in early childhood was increasingly considered a precondition for a lasting, close, and emotional relationship between father and child.
In this paper, I will discuss the idea of a caring and emotional fatherhood as a part of socialist ideology in a long-term perspective, with case studies from France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. The paper will present theoretical conceptions about (future) socialist fatherhood and will discuss different attempts to implement it. Therefore, I will draw on ego-documents, press reports, and contemporary sociological surveys. (Show less)
Natalia Jarska :
Fathers in Poland – between Providing and Caregiving (1960s and 1970s)
The paper will explore how fatherhood was conceptualized in Poland in the 1960s and 1970s, with a focus on the idea of involved fatherhood. How did new discourses emerge and how did they argue for a more involved model of fatherhood? How were models of involved fatherhood and the caring ... (Show more)
The paper will explore how fatherhood was conceptualized in Poland in the 1960s and 1970s, with a focus on the idea of involved fatherhood. How did new discourses emerge and how did they argue for a more involved model of fatherhood? How were models of involved fatherhood and the caring father related to masculinity? Did socialist and catholic writings offer alternative visions of fatherhood? The paper also aims to confront these ideas with men’s experiences of fatherhood.
Discourses on fatherhood will be analyzed by drawing on advice books for boys, men and for parents, as well as selected press articles, taking into account both socialist and Catholic discourses, experts’ and lay voices. The paper also examines a collection of original memoirs on family life to explore men’s experiences of being a father. These memoirs were written in response to calls announced in the popular press in the 1960s and 1970s.
The paper aims to challenge the dominant argument about the persisting model of the ‘absent father’ from the 1930s to the 1970s in Poland. Although, especially in the 1960s, fathers were expected to provide for the family in the first place, and care was usually conceptualized as a female task, new attitudes and behaviours reflecting a model of involved fatherhood were visible, such as being a ‘loving father’ or playing with young children. These new trends developed in the 1970s. (Show less)
Ellie Murray :
Writing about the Future: Children’s Conceptions of Fatherhood, Work and Care in Mid-20th-century Britain
This paper examines three collections of schoolchildren’s essays, spanning from the 1930s to the 1960s. Children were asked to write essays about their future adult lives, and many boys described their imagined experiences as fathers, husbands and workers. In their analysis of boys’ inter-war essays about what they wanted to ... (Show more)
This paper examines three collections of schoolchildren’s essays, spanning from the 1930s to the 1960s. Children were asked to write essays about their future adult lives, and many boys described their imagined experiences as fathers, husbands and workers. In their analysis of boys’ inter-war essays about what they wanted to do after leaving school, Hester Barron and Claire Langhamer show that boys prioritized finding financial and domestic security (2017). Through analysing essays from across the mid-century, this paper will assess boys’ shifting ideas about the role they felt fathers should play in the home and men’s balance between work and family life.
This sheds light on children’s changing understandings of fatherhood. From viewing breadwinning as their main responsibility, boys in the 1950s and 1960s increasingly prioritized spending time with their children in their future life narratives. One boy in 1969 wrote ‘[If] I was to split my life up 60% would go towards my children 30% for work and 10% for pleasure'. These essays will be analysed alongside children’s accounts of family life and children’s comics, to explore how their conceptions were influenced by ideas about gender-specific caring practices and representations of fathering.
These imaginations offer a new perspective on how family life changed and the way parenting values were passed on in the mid-century, by revealing the significance future fathers attached to parenting work – whether that be wage earning, entertaining children or caring for them day to day. As Laura King argues, fathers and their children invested different levels of importance in the time they spent together (2015). By analysing children’s, rather than adults’ perceptions of fathering, this paper illuminates how individuals learnt and thought about parenthood before having children of their own. (Show less)
Christopher Neumaier :
Partner, Friend, or Foe? Father-Son Relationships and Ideals of Masculinity in Germany during the 20th Century
During the 1980s, the phenomenon of the new father was widely discussed in West Germany. Supposedly, they pushed buggies and played with their kids in public playgrounds. Child rearing thus became a pillar of fatherhood. According to contemporaries, the ideals of masculinity shifted. These perceived changes also hint at the ... (Show more)
During the 1980s, the phenomenon of the new father was widely discussed in West Germany. Supposedly, they pushed buggies and played with their kids in public playgrounds. Child rearing thus became a pillar of fatherhood. According to contemporaries, the ideals of masculinity shifted. These perceived changes also hint at the fact that fatherhood had remained a static entity during the rest of the 20th century: Fathers did provide the income of the family but hardly participated in everyday family life.
My paper aims to question this perception by arguing that fathers had always been involved – to very different degrees – in family life and practices. This also means that mothers were responsible for the majority of tasks such as housekeeping and parenting. But when, how and why did the fathers participate in parenting and housekeeping in German families during the 20th century? Were their attitudes shaped by (economic) necessities or rather by ideals of masculinity? Did the latter, in particular, shift in Germany during the 20th century towards a “caring masculinity”? I aim to review whether this trend led towards partnerships between mothers and fathers as well as fathers and sons, and eventually to a deep friendship. This will be contrasted to cases where father-son conflicts were prominent, and I will discuss whether fathers and sons saw each other as foes in such emotionally charged situations. One should not neglect fathers’ relationships with their daughters. Therefore, I will also ask when fathers became involved in the parenting of their daughters.
The paper will focus on case studies portraying the family lives of different social classes in four different time periods: the late 1920s, the early 1950s as well as the 1970s and 1980s. My arguments will be based on media reports, scientific publications as well archival material from government, political parties and the Protestant as well as the Catholic Church. For instance, I will review father-son relationships in Weimar Republic Germany and contrast it to the early and later Federal Republic. Moreover, my paper will show how household duties were divided between mothers, fathers and children. In this respect, I aim to highlight gender-specific relationships between fathers and sons. Thereby, I will show how the ideals of masculinity have been shaped in Germany during the 20th century. These findings will be contrasted to both father-daughter and mother-daughter/-son relationships. (Show less)