Couples' negotiating parental leave take-up in the UK: A sociological mixed methods study

Room G08 University House
Wednesday 5 December 2018 (13:00-14:00)

Department of Management Research Seminar Series 2018-2019. 


Dr Katherine Twamley, Associate Professor of Sociology at the Department of Social Science, University College London (UCL)


This paper draws on a mixed-methods longitudinal project funded by the Leverhulme Trust in the UK. The study overall explores the intersections of intimacy, gender equality and parenting ideology through research with couples taking different leave patterns after the birth of a child.

The data collection is divided in two parts. The first part was a survey of expectant parents in antenatal clinics in two hospital trusts in England. The second part involved a qualitative longitudinal study of a sub sample of the survey participants.  21 parent-dyads were interviewed together as a couple when the mothers were 8 months pregnant and when the babies were six months old, and then individually when the babies were approximately 13-14 months old – after the UK leave period is over. Additionally, the parents kept week long diaries at four different time points over the 15 month period. They were all dual earner couples, all in opposite sex relationships, and all first-time parents.

In this seminar the author will focus on the interactions between partners observed in the first set of interviews, while the mother was still pregnant. In particular, she will explore how the decision to take particular kinds of leave were presented and sometimes negotiated within the interview context. This is done in an effort to understand how some couples ultimately share parental leave more equally and others do not, as well as to understand in more detail the everyday negotiations of family practices.

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