• Exploring the Emotional Experience of Same-sex Parents by Mixing Creatively Multiple Qualitative Methods

      Pratesi, Alessandro; University of Chester (2012)
      In this paper I address some of the main challenges and benefits of doing qualitative research with a specific type of 'informal carers': those who have been thus far excluded from the conceptual category of 'normal' carers and from 'normal' research on informal care: same-sex parents. The research presented in this paper is an example of a qualitative, inclusive approach to studying the felt and lived experience of 42 same-sex parents. It draws on a wider study on 80 informal caregivers, whose aim is to offer a more inclusive interpretation and a more reliable discourse on family care and parenthood. The research objective was gaining insights into the emotional mechanisms through which dynamics of inclusion or exclusion are interactionally and situationally constructed and/or challenged while doing care. In this paper I illustrate the mix of creative, qualitative methods I employed to explore the experiences of a group of same-sex parents living in Philadelphia (USA).
    • The politics of care: same-sex parenthood, emotional dynamics and social change.

      Pratesi, Alessandro; University of Chester (2013-10)
      Care is a fundamental component of people’s life, with significant implications in terms of status and power dimensions, social justice, equality and social change. Nevertheless, care related policies tend to be defined in neutral terms, reinforcing inequalities based on gender, class, race/ethnicity, age, able-bodiness and sexual orientation. Moreover, the literature on care tends to be focused on its costs and responsibilities, while less attention is paid to the right to care and its consequences in terms of status inclusion or exclusion. The study here presented aimed at rethinking the phenomenon of care in a broader perspective, by offering a qualitative analysis that also includes non-conventional caregivers. It builds on the findings of an empirical research on informal care conducted in the USA between 2005 and 2007. The theoretical framework draws on those aspects of the Sociology of Emotions that, in explaining how feelings motivate conformity and social stratification, connect micro- and macro-levels, making care, emotion and sexual orientation central to understand how situated interactions reproduce social structure. The phenomenological analysis of the different meanings and implications of care discussed in this paper sheds light into important and yet less visible and still unexplored aspects of care concerning status and power dimensions. More specifically, it highlights the emotional dynamics thorough which informal care can produce unexpected outcomes in terms of status inclusion and self-empowerment. The implications of more inclusive approaches to Care are crucially important for current debates within social sciences. Situating the debate on same-sex parenthood within the context of care allows us to reframe the discourse on care and reduce the inequalities traditionally connected to this fundamental activity; but it also allows to overcome the misleading dualism between marginalisation and incorporation and to look for anti-assimilationist strategies of inclusion and social change.
    • A Respectable Scandal: Gay Parenthood, Emotional Dynamics, and Social Change

      Pratesi, Alessandro; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2012-08-14)
      Most of the scholarship and current literature on parental care focuses on its gendered costs and unbalances. Less attention is paid to the consequences of being excluded from this specific type of care—what we could call the right to parent. Gay and lesbian parents claiming their right to parent represents a momentous historical change: the increasing visibility of these parents is one of the most important components of such change. Emotional dynamics are key to this social change. Emotions constitute the link between doing parenting at the micro level of interactions and doing, or undoing, difference at the macro level of social structures; similarly, different ways to do parenting and to do gender must be taken into account if we want to grasp a truly comprehensive picture of the phenomenon of parenthood. This article draws on a wider study on different kinds of care and caregivers, whose aim is to offer a more inclusive interpretation and a more reliable discourse on family care and parenthood. Parenthood is still societally significant, but different ways to attain parenthood (biologically, through adoption, surrogacy, etc.) or to be a parent (single or in a couple, gay or heterosexual, married or unmarried, etc.) seem to mark a more important difference. While such difference can translate into inequality, this is now being challenged by these increasingly more visible parents. My findings show that the divide between the categories of “parents” and “nonparents” dissolves the divide between the categories of “gay/lesbian” and “non-gay/lesbian.” Gay and lesbian parents produce social change by taking the sexuality out of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) politics in the mainstream arena. Same-sex parenthood may still be perceived by many as a “scandal,” but more and more as a respectable one.