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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

“You have to focus all your energy on being a parent”: Barriers and opportunities for Swedish farmers to be involved fathers

Eriksson, Camilla; Hajdu, Flora


Swedish farming fathers are facing new expectations about their level of involvement in their children?s upbringing ? expectations of their own, but also arising from gender equality policy and shifting societal norms. A gender-neutral parental leave scheme has been in place in Sweden since 1974 and gives parents a generous opportunity to take paid time off work to stay at home with their children. Generally, however, fathers tend to take only a small share of the days allotted for parental leave, with farming farmers among those making least use of this opportunity. In this paper we explore farmers? expectations of fatherhood and how different types of farm management can be combined with parenting. The paper draws on qualitative interviews conducted with three generations of farmers. Our results indicate that the notion of involved fatherhood, i.e. being emotionally present and nurturing, is identified by farmers as a societal norm laid on farming fathers today, and that farmers indeed want to pursue involved fatherhood. We conclude that farm operators face several barriers to fulfilling the ideal of involved fatherhood, especially related to the difficulties of being able to afford and find a competent replacement during long periods of parental leave. However, two types of farms stand out as offering opportunities to overcome these issues: farms run as corporations where the farm operator is employed, and small farms with a high degree of flexibility in how time is spent during the day or over the year.


Farming fathers; Involved fatherhood; Parental leave; Family farm; Farm succession

Published in

Journal of Rural Studies
2021, Volume: 83, pages: 88-95

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG5 Gender equality

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Gender Studies
    Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

    Publication identifier


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