Contemporary and “New” Fatherhoods: an Attempt of Redefinition Looking at the Case of Parental Leave

  • Maddalena Cannito


In this paper, I will use 35 interviews with heterosexual Italian fathers, among whom 25 used parental leave, to redefine “new” fatherhood. First, I will show that in all the interviews there are some elements that constitute a sort of common ground upon which contemporary fatherhood relies. Then, since masculinity and fatherhood are enacted in the daily life, I will focus on the actual practices performed by father. In order to better define the concept of new fatherhood, I will show the existence of different fatherhoods, combining two dimensions: the discursive self-positioning of men in respect to fatherhood and the actual practices of care performed with their children. To label a man as a new father, it is not sufficient his self-definition as “present”, but it is also necessary that he is also involved in innovative care practices and parental leave is not necessarily one of them.