Individualization and contemporary fatherhood




individualization, fatherhood, social psychology, discourse analysis, multi-locality of families after separation, post-separation families, residential distance, face-to-face contacts, father-child-relationship, conduct of everyday life across households, Germany, AID:A


Objective: This article explores dilemmas related to contemporary fatherhood and discusses how theories of individualization enable the understanding of social change and family life.

Background: Theories on modernization argue that ongoing processes of individualization challenge researchers to reinvent key concepts in family sociology. The concept of intimate fatherhood allows for the exploration of men’s family practices and presents a basis for understanding what modernization means for contemporary parenthood. Intimate fatherhood can be further theorized through empirically sensitive approaches in the study of everyday family life.

Method: Drawing on data from a mixed-method longitudinal study comprising four waves of data from the 1968 cohort in Denmark (n = 1,414), the study analyzes qualitative interviews from the second and fourth waves. Social psychological discourse analysis of the interviews is used to explore the participants' family practices.

Results: The analysis examines how caring intimacy in contemporary fatherhood is interwoven in a complex entanglement with other positions related to partnering and provision. Individualization is theorized as a mode of orientation in life with reference to oneself but not counterposed to social ties and family practices signified by solidarity and togetherness.

Conclusion: Individualization theory can guide analytical attention when examining contemporary fatherhood, but such analyses must remain sensitive to the complex entanglement of everyday family life.


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How to Cite

Westerling, A. (2023). Individualization and contemporary fatherhood. Journal of Family Research, 35, 357–371.