Where qualitative research meets demography: interdisciplinary explorations of conceptions of fatherhood in an extremely low fertility context
Qualitative Research, 4:2, 201–226 (2004)
Recent demands to include psychological theories of decision-making and intention-formation in research on family formation coincide with calls for improving research on male fertility and fatherhood. In this paper, we address these notions and present findings from in-depth interviews with 30-year-old childless men from Eastern Germany on their desire for children. Our research is embedded in the societal situation of contemporary Eastern Germany, where birth rates have faced a historical low – the lowest in more than 10 years.
Our innovative analytical paradigm draws on the contemporary social cognitive theory of intention-formation. The focus lies on the examination of male attitudes, values, motives, interests, goals, action beliefs, and self-concepts, and their connection to men´s intentions for parenthood. We compare our results with explanations that the Theory of Symbolic Self-Completion and the Theory of Reasoned Action give. We argue for the need to bring together psychological and sociological theorizing in this field.
KEYWORDS: Demography, qualitative psychology, Eastern Germany, birth rate, fertility, men, fatherhood, desire for children, intention-formation, problem-centered interview
Keywords: Germany (Neue Bundesländer), family formation, men, social psychology