Studying the Influences of Social Class on the Transition to Parenthood: Using In-Depth Interviewing and Survey Research Methods in a Longitudinal Study


My PhD dissertation research project examined couples’ transition to first-time parenthood, and how this experience varied by participants’ social class background. The design of the study was a qualitative comparison of two data collection points where I administered surveys, and conducted in-depth interviews with 28 participant couples. I used these methodologies to examine how couples of two different social class groups divided and managed housework before the birth of their first child, and how they managed the same housework (as well as the additional work of childrearing) 6-9 months after the birth of their child. The specific aim of the research was to identify if and how marriages become gendered after the arrival of a couple’s first baby. The data collection process spanned 3 years, and the following case study explains how and why I chose to deploy these research methods, as well as the unforeseen challenges of conducting a longitudinal, qualitative research project.

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