Bargaining couple's fertility: men's accounts
Sociology ICS/UL Lisboa, Portugal
Men's involvement in the couple's fertility achievements is a subject that we are hardly familiar with and this lack of knowledge is related to a variety of reasons: the consolidation of demographic analysis based on indicators that portray, almost exclusively, women's fertility; the long-established focus on the female perspective of family life, raising children and reproductive behaviours (due to the biological/cultural prerogatives of motherhood and the growing feminization of contraception); and the widespread assumption, at least until recent times, of reproduction as a dimension of marital life without conflicts or even negotiations and adjustments.
Does it happen in this way, or do men and women enter conjugal life with personal fertility expectations which, at a given moment, have to be reconciled in a shared family project? How do partners cope in case of conflicting expectations? And how do men perceive the negotiation of the couple's fertility and the subsequent decision-making process, within a cultural context that gives women control over the couple's contraception?
From a set of interviews with married men with small children, we will look at interviewees' fertility expectations at different moments of their biography, their involvement in the negotiation of the couple's fertility, their feeling of control over the fertility outcome and, lastly, the strains experienced as a result of partners' conflicting expectations or even lack of communication.