Revija za socijalnu politiku, Svezak 23, Br. 3 (2016)

Veličine fonta:  Mali  Srednji  Veliki

Introduction to the Thematic Issue of the Journal on Family and Changing Gender Roles

Dinka Marinović Jerolimov


During the second half of the twentieth century and especially over the past few decades our experience and understanding of family and gender roles has changed remarkably. Phenomena unthinkable to our grandparents nowadays are much more evident and socially acceptable: divorce, remarriage after divorce, cohabitation, experimental relationships, homosexual marriages or partnerships with or without children, single parent families, more democratic relations between parents and children, women’s employment, paternity leave etc. Besides the increased variation in family forms and changed relationships inside the families, social scientist are interested in other issues that affect every society at the macro-level such as for instance the number of children in families or the issue of fertility rates and greying societies.
While twenty or thirty years ago the important question concerning family life included women’s employment and its consequences for the family, today the focus is more on work-life balance and how to reconcile the work and family life, together with gender roles in families and households. Still relevant both for the families and social science research, the question of women’s paid job is widened with the gender roles, power distribution within the households with respect to paid work, unpaid household work, care responsibilities and furthermore, gender equality in both spheres of work. More complex analysis of these changes, besides using a general modernization processes as the framing context, should take into account social policies, employment policies and changing labour-market conditions as well. Social scientists are particularly interested in cross-cultural variations in order to understand and explain these interconnectedness and changes. That is the reason why the theme on family and changing gender roles has been researched in four waves within the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP). The first module was run in 1988, the second in 1994 and the third in 2002. Selected data from the last 2012 ISSP module (fielded in Croatia in 2013) are basis for analysis in articles included in this thematic issue of the journal.

About the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)
The International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) is the oldest continuing annual cross-national research within the social sciences. Its members are survey organizations from around the world, each representing one nation. Since 2005 the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb has been represented Republic of Croatia in the project. The ISSP covers a range of topics important within the social sciences (the role of government, social inequality, national identities, religion, health, work orientations, citizenship, environment, social networks, leisure time and sports) and implements rigorous standards of survey research in order to address the difficulties inherent in multinational survey research. Since its modest beginning in 1984 ISSP has grown to include 48 members, each of whom are responsible for the ISSP surveys being implemented in their country each year. The annual topics for ISSP surveys are developed over several years, led by an elected sub-committee (drafting group) and pre-tested in various member countries. The annual plenary meeting then discusses and finalize the questionnaire which is fielded in all countries. The ISSP research concentrates especially on developing questions that are: 1) meaningful and relevant to all countries, and 2) can be expressed in an equivalent manner in all relevant languages. The ISSP data archive situated in GESIS Data Archive for the Social Sciences at Leibnitz Institute in Köln prepares a combined dataset that is freely available. Many listed topics are repeated at regular intervals (some of them even three or four times), allowing researchers to examine cross-national variations and changes over time. ISSP marks several new departures in the area of cross-national research. First, the collaboration between organizations is routine and continual. Second, the on-going collaboration of the same institutions makes cross-national research a basic part of the national research agenda of each participating country. Third, ISSP principles require that all member institutions be involved in various phases of planning and designing survey modules, and each member has a say in decision making. Fourth, by combining a cross-time methodology with a cross-national perspective, two powerful research designs are being used to study societal processes.
Topics of the 2012 module Family and changing gender roles include: gender ideology; attitudes and behavior on female employment over the life-cycle; attitudes towards marriage; organizing income in a partnership; gendered division of household work; sharing of household work - fairness and conflict; power and decision-making within partnership; work-family conflict; gender, care, and social policy; attitudes towards children; model of families concerning preferred and actual division of paid and unpaid work including time management in household; alternative family forms.

Overview of the articles
Selected data presented in three articles in this volume (partially or exclusively) deal with the 2012 fourth wave of the ISSP module Family and changing gender roles. Although not based on the ISSP data, the fourth article fits into the theme of the module and the thematic issue as well, offering on the other hand intergenerational comparison and psychosocial perspective. While three articles cover national (Croatian) level of analysis, Ivana Dobrotić and Tanja Vučković Juroš offer the cross-national (European) perspective in their article Who Should Finance Childcare? Multilevel Analysis of 24 Countries. They examine the effect of the individual and country-level factors on the childcare financing attitudes, particularly whether socialization in a particular welfare regime influences attitudes about the state’s responsibility related to childcare. The authors also investigate whether a more family-policy-nuanced categorisation of welfare regimes better accounts for the cross-country variations in childcare attitudes. Their most important finding is that the alternative Leitner’s “Varieties of Families” typology better accounts for the cross-national variations in childcare attitudes than the classical Esping-Anderson’s typology. Therefore they emphasise the importance of a programmatic approach in the welfare state attitudes analysis which links the public support for specific social programs to its unique characteristics.
In her article Beliefs about the Gender Division of Parental Leave and Characteristics Associated with Them Ivana Jugović explores attitudes about paternal/maternity leave and factors explaining these attitudes in Croatian context. As predictors of these attitudes she examines gender difference, gender-role beliefs, socio-demographics, church attendance, type of working organization and partners’ income disparity. Results show the gender-role attitude as the only statistically significant predictor. The less the respondents believe that the gender division of labour should be traditionally divided, the more likely they are to support equally shared leave between parents. Author finds the gender ideology theory more applicable in the explanation of attitudes about the gender division of parental leave compared to time-allocation theory. She concludes that shifts towards supporting gender egalitarian leave take-up will most likely not occur until attitudes towards gender roles in general become more egalitarian.
Written through a philosophy of gender perspective the third article In the Name of the Father: A Discussion on (New)Fatherhood, its Assumptions and Obstacles by Ana Maskalan is among pioneer works on fatherhood in Croatian context. Author starts with the basic concepts of father and fatherhood and their literal and symbolic meanings, together with a short historical overview combined with selected theories of fatherhood. The appropriate context to examine the modern fatherhood author finds in historical interdependence of fatherhood, masculine identity and political power where traditional determinants of masculinity, such as aggressiveness and emotional detachment represent a major obstacle to a fulfilling and positive father-child relationship. That relationship is partially discussed in relation to the concept of equal parental partnership, implying not only the new forms of fatherhood, but the new forms of masculine identity as well. Analysing the data on values and practices of Croatian men and women regarding childcare from ISSP 2012 survey on family and changing gender roles, author concludes that, although many positive changes have been made, Croatian society has got a long way to go to reach both equal parenting and gender equality. Also, she finds important to note that as a subject of political and legal controversy fatherhood cannot and must not be considered independently of the wider gender issues regarding motherhood, social status of men and women, as well as socio-economic assumptions of both fatherhood and motherhood.
Ninoslava Pećnik, Jelena Matić and Ana Tokić Milaković in their article Fulfilment of the Child’s Participation Rights in the Family and the Child's Psychosocial Adjustment: Children’s and Parents’ Views offer an interesting intergenerational perspective using the representative samples of seventh grade students (thirteen-year-olds) and their parents. They examined perceived fulfilment of the provision, protection and participation rights of the child within contemporary Croatian families, the links between participation rights fulfilment and children’s perception of a democratic climate in their families, as well as some indicators of children’s psychosocial adjustment. Authors used data on measures of the child’s rights fulfilment in the family, family governing style, self-esteem, self-control, behaviour problem, and resistance efficacy. Approximately half of the children reported full respect of their right to freely express their opinions and ideas, and to influence decision making that affects them. Assessments of the ‘governing style’ in their families reveal that, over a quarter of children see their families as dictatorships, anarchies, or post-revolutionary states. Higher participation rights fulfilment Pećnik et al. find linked with perceiving own family as a democracy, child’s report of higher self-esteem and fewer behaviour problems, more frequently resisting peer pressure to use substances (cigarettes, alcohol), as well as with parent’s report of greater child’s self-control. Parents, in comparison to their children, tend to overestimate the level of fulfilment of children’s rights to protection of physical integrity, dignity, participation in decision-making and to receiving loving care.
Finally, I wish to thank all authors who contributed to this thematic issue and widened our knowledge on changes in family and gender roles in Croatia but in general as well. Also, I encourage social scientist in Croatia to use in their analysis not only the module Family and changing gender roles but other ISSP modules as well more frequently. ISSP data base offers comparative files that include 33 modules for national, cross-national and cross-time analysis link to which can be found under Archive and Data at
Guest editor of the thematic issue: Dinka Marinović Jerolimov

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Revija za socijalnu politiku (Online). ISSN: 1845-6014