Understandings of Responsible Parenthood Among University Educated: ‘Listening to Our Conscience is a Very Demanding Vocation’
Motivated by some recent studies that emphasised the plurality of different factors that cause the common trend of very low fertility in Europe, the author in her essay considers the unquestioned and widely accepted idea of general diminishing importance of children to parents presumed by the second demographic transition theory. In this regard, the author confronts this assumption grounded in Ariès’ notion on motivations for fertility decline with recent elaborations on changing context of parenthood in contemporary societies. She outlines some roots of the notion of parental responsibility as created by some social actors to explain the background of low fertility motivations, which was overlooked in Ariès’ arguments. On the basis of her own case study, the author also presents some preliminary results related to the understanding of responsible parenthood in the university-educated. The results of her case study reveal the complexity of current understandings of parenting and indicate the need towards precise contextualisation of notions used so automatically in demographic research.