Foodwork as the New Fathering?

Change and Stability in Men’s Housework

  • Nicklas Neuman Department of Food Studies, Nutrition and Dietetics, Uppsala University
Keywords: childcare, cooking, fathering, gender equality, foodwork, housework

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to explore the parallels of fathering and foodwork among men in Sweden. The research question is: can foodwork be seen as “the new fathering”? The paper outlines the narrative of fathers in Sweden and gender progressiveness, and discusses gendered foodwork in Sweden up until the mid-1990s. Subsequently, statistical evidence from Statistics Sweden’s three time-use studies is presented, complemented with evidence from quantitative studies about the gendered division of housework. Here, the data demonstrates change over time in men’s and women’s total housework, foodwork and childcare. Men are doing more and women less, although the absolute changes are greater among women who still do more. Such evidence is further discussed in relation to socio-demographics, household composition and paid work, pointing to the relevance of factors such as gender-egalitarian attitudes and having children. The quantitative section is then followed by an argumentation about cultural shifts in relation to qualitative studies on men’s domestic foodwork. In the discussion it is concluded that foodwork can indeed be seen as “the new fathering”. Not as a substitution for fathering or as something exclusive for fathers, but as an addition to the repertoire of cultural understandings and social expectations of a “modern” man in Sweden. However, the most substantial change is likely to be cultural—on the level of ideals—while statistics on behaviour mostly support slow and minor changes, with the overall social relation of men and women demonstrating significant stability.

Published
2021-02-02
Section
Men Can/Can men Change?