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  • Suviniemi-Harju, Sanna-Maria (2020)
    Based on previous studies, decision making concerning parental leave is affected by both economic issues and preconditions relating to labor market structures and gendered practices, but also by people’s views about what the appropriate age range for children to be cared for at home by a parent is and which parent is seen as primarily responsible for this care. The discussion surrounding this topic also entails the notion of what is considered “right”, i.e. what is regarded as good parenting or a good childhood. This thesis will examine the way good parenting is defined in argumentations for childcare choices and what kind of subject-positions are formed for parents in the discourse of good parenting. My research data consists of interviews in which four heterosexual couples (mother and father) talk about their own childcare solutions and, from their own perspective and generally, about taking parental leave from work. I use a discursive approach in analyzing the data. Instead of a coherent idea of good parenting, I found many discourses of good parenting, which “activated” in different situations and in which parents sometimes positioned themselves differently based on their sex. The discussion surrounding parenting was also defined by the hectic quality of working life and, among other things, wage structures and pay gaps. Choices were made in negotiating with multiple conflicting discourses and therefore the thesis questioned the issue of the families’ “freedom of choice”. Following the spirit of neoliberalism, the family was conceived as an enterprise that needs to assess risks and maximize profit. In this thesis the relationship between work and parenting was examined from the point of view of parents that represent the heteronormative nuclear family, but in future research the scope should be broadened to involve diverse families.