• Social Class and the Transition to Parenthood: How Gender Repertoires, Social Resources, and Occupational (In)Flexibility Influence First-Time Moms and Dads

      Levine, Judith Adrienne, 1965-; Grasmuck, Sherri; Wray, Matt, 1964-; Levitt, Laura, 1960- (Temple University. Libraries, 2016)
      My dissertation examines couples’ transition to first-time parenthood, and how this experience varies by social class. More specifically, the design of this project is a qualitative comparison of two data collection points, which examines how couples of two different social class groups divide and manage housework before the birth of their first child, and how they manage the same housework (as well as the additional work of childrearing) six to nine months post-birth. With these concerns in mind, the primary question driving this research project is: do marriages become more gendered after the birth of a couple's first child, and if so, how does this experience differ by social class? The specific aims of the research are to identify if and how marriages become gendered after the birth of a couple’s first child. This study also seeks to identify and understand the disjuncture between what participants say versus what they do with regard to the completing of housework and parenting approaches. Research findings demonstrate how some couples’ marriages became more or less gendered, and how some marriages remained more gender-neutral, largely depended on the intersection of their gender repertoires and their social class position. Specifically, every household’s configuration of their access to social resources, availability of social support, their occupational (in)flexibility, and the pre-existing, gendered dynamics between husbands and wives directly and indirectly influenced their transitions to parenthood. Many middle and upper-middle class participants had the material and social resources which interacted with their gender repertoires and assisted them in achieving their desired post-birth outcomes. For most of these households, their new lives as parents involved a more gender-neutral distribution of housework and childrearing, and nearly all middle and upper-middle class mothers returned to paid employment after maternity leave. For most lower-middle class participants, however, the limitations in their educational attainment levels, annual household incomes, and social networks interacted with their gender repertoires in ways that posed constraints to their transition to parenthood, and their ability to achieve their desired post-birth, work-family balance. Financial restrictions and the unaffordability of childcare affected some lower-middle-class mothers’ abilities to return to paid employment, despite their initial intention of doing so. For some lower-middle class fathers, their occupational inflexibility constrained their abilities to spend more time with their families. The variation in gender repertoires between lower-middle, middle, and upper-middle class participants, resulted in differentials in how couples were able to respond to the changes and challenges of becoming parents.