Card image cap
Card image cap

New masculinity in Switzerland: an ideological approach to gender and the distribution of paid and unpaid work in couples

Hakim Ben Salah, Boris Wernli, Caroline Henchoz

Research Framework: In postmodern Western society, men have adopted behaviour that is traditionally labelled as being feminine, particularly when it comes to the distribution of child rearing roles. In Switzerland, the tangible investment of men is generally characterized, in comparison to women, by a lesser involvement in domestic and familial tasks, which is reduced further following the birth of a child.

Objectives: Using this statement as our starting point, this article explores the relationship between gender ideology and the investment of men and fathers in this area.

Methodology: Using multi-variate statistics models, our analysis attempts to determine whether attitudes to family life and equality have an influence on the domestic and familial involvement of men. We conducted over 25,000 telephone interviews between 2000 and 2011 as a part of the Swiss Household Panel (SHP).

Results: Our results showed four types of masculinity. The “Professional Man” essentially builds his masculinity through their professional implication in the employment and financial aspects of the household. The “Orthodox Man” remains the main financial provider though they do not eschew domestic tasks. Regardless, they tend to take care of tasks that are socially defined as being masculine. The “Traditional Manager” has a similar profile though they only take charge of tasks that are negotiable such as the administrative aspects of the home. The “Inclusive Man” shares more time between paid and unpaid work with their partner.

Conclusions: These different profiles are less explained by the practical application of a gender ideology than by institutional and pragmatic factors such as economic and human capital and the disposition of partners.

Contributions: By offering a typology for involvement in unpaid work for Swiss men and by empirically examining several explanations for the stated differences, this article provides an original contribution to the understanding of masculinity in a familial context.