The socio-cultural and biological meaning of parenthood

Satvinder Purewal*, Olga Van Den Akker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parenting a child is one of the most universal, common and fundamental assumptions the majority of men and women make from an early age about their future. This common and historic assumption was challenged in modernized Western societies in the 1960s with the opportunities for 'mass control' of reproduction and then again supported in the 1980s with the advance of 'mass enhancement' of reproduction. This study qualitatively assessed the meaning of parenthood of post modern British individuals of different ages, gender, cultural backgrounds and parity. The results of the Interpretative Phenomenological Analyses revealed a number of common ideologies about parenthood, and a number of specific age, gender, parity and cultural differences in how individuals interpret and experience parenthood. These individual differences play a significant part in the quality of life of people gaining or losing the opportunity to parent, as has been discussed 'around the globe' by Frank van Balen and his team, and must be considered in counselling people faced with decisions which challenge their personal and universal assumptions to parent a genetically related child.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2007


  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • Meaning of parenthood
  • Parenthood motives
  • Qualitative


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