A role of one's own. The representation of fatherhood in Dutch children's literature from 1950-2020

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2021-02-23
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en
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Although fatherhood is often discussed in the popular press, there barely exists any research on the history and culture of Dutch fatherhood. This thesis hopes to start filling this gap, by asking how fatherhood was represented in Dutch children’s books from 1950 until 2020. To find out whether Dutch fatherhood has culturally transitioned, as is often stated, a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis has been used. A method, which stays close to the narratives, but that is also able to locate certain (chronological) patterns in the chosen corpus of books. Fathers, the analysis shows, are portrayed quite positively throughout the years. They sometimes occupy an excessive amount of space in these books, especially in the earlier and later decades. Therefore indicating, contrary to general belief, that their presence or familial engagement has not necessarily increased. Over the past seventy years, their literary role has remained a rather distinctive one, that can clearly be distinguished from a typical mother’s role. Fathers take their children out for adventures, and introduce them to the outside world. They are sometimes even presented as children themselves, whereas mothers remain ultimately responsible for the home, its management, and the well-being of its inhabitants. Based on these books, fatherhood and motherhood in the Netherlands have not reached equality yet, and current fatherhood cannot be designated as new or transitioned.
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