Based on interviews conducted with thirty-two families living in cities across Canada, Against the Grain challenges dominant understandings of parenting by looking closely at the way couples who have opted for less traditional divisions of labour negotiate their parental and household responsibilities. Included are interviews with breadwinner mothers and caregiver fathers and with dual-earner couples, both heterosexual and same-sex, who struggle to share equally in the nurture and support of their families. Concise and highly accessible, it offers a richly detailed sociological analysis of gender relations in families undergoing change.A central claim of the book is that, when both parents are equally involved in hands-on caregiving, they tend to become, over time, functionally interchangeable, leading away from conventional "mothering" and "fathering" and towards parenting. In exploring this dynamic, Against the Grain offers an excellent opportunity to examine how social change happens at home.
Gillian Ranson is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Calgary. She has written numerous articles on gender and parenting.