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Doing, Re-doing or Undoing Masculinity? Swedish Men in the Filial Care of Aging Parents

Journal article
Authors Sofia Björk
Published in NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 20-35
ISSN 0803-8740
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 20-35
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/08038740.2014.97...
Keywords doing gender, undoing gender, eldercare, masculinities, son’s caregiving
Subject categories Sociology, Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Abstract

This article examines how men’s involvement in the care of aging parents is accounted for in relation to discourses of masculinity and femininity. The article draws on semistructured interviews with Swedish men and women caring for elderly parents. Using the concepts of doing, re-doing, and undoing gender as a theoretical tool, both reproduction and renegotiation of gendered understandings of caregiving were found. When accounting for men’s lack of involvement in care, gender was often resorted to as an explanation. As men took on care responsibilities, the meaning of both care practices and masculinities were renegotiated, either by re-doing gender through distinctions of “new” hegemonic masculinities, or even by undoing gender through making gender irrelevant in care arrangements. Gender equality discourses were surprisingly absent from accounts of eldercare arrangements. Since policies on gender equality in Sweden have focused more on parenthood than other caregiving relationships, “caring masculinities” have not been made an ideal in relation to the care of aging parents.

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