Volume 32 - Article 9 | Pages 287–310
The link between parenthood and partnership in contemporary Norway - Findings from focus group research
Background: The increase in childbearing within cohabitation raises a question about the link between parenthood and partnership. In Norway, having the first child in cohabitation has become the most common pattern.
Objective: The paper studies the interrelated meaning of partnership, marriage, and childbearing. We ask what children mean to partnerships, what the meaning of marriage is for childbearing, and what reasons there are for marrying besides childbearing.
Methods: The data consist of eight focus group interviews on marriage and cohabitation. Each group had between five and nine participants aged 25 to 40 years, and was stratified by gender and education. All participants were Norwegian citizens living in Oslo. Both authors reviewed and discussed the central thematic categories relevant to the research question.
Results: When people feel free to choose between cohabitation and marriage, the role of parenthood becomes more salient for forming a union. We find that the meaning of partnership has shifted from being defined around marriage to being defined around having a child, which makes the link between partnership and childbearing more interesting. Discussing whether to have children or a pregnancy can bring up the question of marriage and make it more relevant. The conclusion, however, is not that marriage is normative when parenthood occurs. Although the focus groups participants did not feel any pressure to have children in marriage, the general opinion was that childbearing and marriage were linked. Opinions differed, however, about the nature of such a link.
- Trude Lappegård - Universitetet i Oslo, Norway EMAIL
- Turid Noack - Statistisk sentralbyrå (Statistics Norway), Norway EMAIL
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