Changing men, changing times: Fathers and sons from an experimental gender equality study


The aim of this article is to develop a conceptual framework for addressing intergenerational transmission, historical change and agency. The framework is employed to analyse the findings from a longitudinal follow-up study over two generations of men, where couples from Norway participated in an experimental research study, the Work-Sharing Couples Project, which aimed to promote egalitarian work–family adaptations in the early 1970s. The original study was based on both spouses working part-time and shift parenting. The follow-up study concluded that the untraditional work–family arrangement had not been passed on to the sons. The article develops a multidimensional analysis of the work–family adaptations of men in two generations: the untraditional adaptation of fathers in the 1970s; and the neo-traditional adaptations of sons in the 2000s.

In developing a four-dimensional approach to intergenerational transmission and social change, the article contributes to the study of intergenerational transmission through the comparison of situated agency in different generations and time/spaces. Taking into account different aspects of time and space, personal biography, discursive and material structures of opportunity, and intergenerational dynamics at the family level as well as at social level, the article contributes to theorising longitudinal qualitative research by linking the micro-level to the macro-level.

Cite this work

Bjørnholt, Margunn (2014). Changing men, changing times; fathers and sons from an experimental gender equality study (PDF). The Sociological Review. Published online ahead of print 23 April 2014. doi: 10.1111/1467-954X.12156.