Understanding Fertility, Work and Family Through a Gender Lens: A Case Study
Women’s increasing education in ‘developed societies’ provokes ‘fears’ in both population specialists and in the wider public that ‘low fertility’ will endanger the ‘normal reproduction’ of societies. For this reason, the author examines, by using semi-structured lifehistory interviews, the experiences of those individuals that are believed to be mainly ‘responsible’ for the fertility decline: the university educated. Approaches that have also included men, who have usually been underestimated in mainline studies of fertility behaviour, are discussed. Insisting that men are as important in reproductive decisions as women are, the author draws on critiques of the gender-roles concept to demonstrate that gender roles are not encapsulated in predetermined patterns of reproductive behaviour. Therefore, the author attempts to identify both the ‘turning events’ related to reproductive decisions of the interviewees through a gender lens, and those domains where gender still represents an ‘organising principle’.