Masculinities, equality, care practices – MESP

The project is located at the intersection of feminist theoretisations of the welfare systems, in which the concept of care is placed in the center of the analyses of social inequalities, and critical studies of men and masculinities, which widen gender studies from being exclusively oriented towards the analysis of women to researching relational gender dynamics and heterogeneity within the categories of masculinity and femininity. Three dimensions of care (costs, work and responsibilities) are distributed by welfare systems in different ways among diverse institutional domains (the state, the market, the family and the community). The low participation of men in private or professional care giving has appeared to be remarkably resistant to a wide range of demographic, social and economic changes and has remained the central source of ‘patriarchal dividends’. However, a vision of care as human norm that concerns both men and women reveals itself as a critical not only for overcoming the growing care deficit in the ageing societies, but also for (gender) equality, inclusive citizenship and caring democracy. Men’s equal share of care challenges traditional  gender ideologies and opens up a space for rethinking concepts of masculinity and femininity as well as relations between ‘production’ and ‘reproduction’, public and private, politics and intimacy as set-up in capitalism. There is a lot of complexity in men’s caring involvement and we can summarize them in three main dimensions: The first relates to the meaning of masculinity in the context of hierarchical and competitive relations among men, grasped in the concept of hegemonic/multiple masculinities. The second focuses on the way that breadwinning provides the dominant model for men’s caregiving which is likely to restrict the amount and types of care that men undertake. The third relates on the association of caring work with femininity, weakness, subordination as the anti-thesis of hegemonic masculinity. On the empirical level the project explores men’s caring experiences in private and professional care work and answer the questions: Under what circumstances do men assume caring responsibilities? Do men face similar struggles as women when undertaking paid or unpaid care?  How caring men reconcile this ‘transgression’ with the norms of hegemonic masculinity? How norms and practices of care are being transformed when performed by men? Given that most existing studies are focused on childcare in middle class heterosexual families, we aim to explore men’s participation in different geographies of care. Theoretically, the project contributes to the widening of the concept of care in order to address the complex and plural social realities and to overcome essentialist perspectives. Societal, practical and policy relevance of the research relates to exploring new welfare state prospects (participation of men in care).

Project leader: Majda Hrženjak
Project coworkers: Iztok Šori, Mojca Frelih, Živa Humer, Branko Bembič and Aleksandra Kanjuo Mrčela.

Project execution

The project is organised in four modules:

  1. Modul: Review of Literature and Policy/Discourse Analysis (1-12 months).
  2. Modul: The Gendered Organisational Cultures in Caring Professions (12-24 months).
  3. Modul: Negotiating Masculinities in Private and Professional Care Practices (12-24 months).
  4. Modul: Implications for Theory and Politics: Dissemination of Results (ongoing).


International symposium Men, Equality, Care Practices, 5th September 2019, Ljubljana 



Hrženjak, Majda. Multiple masculinities in primary caregiving situations: degendering care and undoing masculinityAnthropological notebooks, 2020, vol. 26, is. 2, str. 28-50, [COBISS.SI-ID 46413827]

Teorija in praksa (vol. LVI, no. 4), special thematic section MASCULINITIES AND CARE: MEN’S EXPERIENCES IN FORMAL AND INFORMAL CARE WORK, edited by Majda Hrženjak and Elli Scambor.

Publications and public action:

  • Hrženjak, Majda. “Saj veš, ni enostavno enega človeka previt” : moški v skrbstvenih poklicihAlternator : misliti znanost. 7. maj 2020. [COBISS.SI-ID 16629251]
  • Humer, Živa. “Najboljše, da me imate kar pod očeta” : izkušnje gejevskih očetov pri uresničevanju starševskih pravic in skrbi za otroke. Socialno delo, 2021, letn. 60, št. 1, str. 19-35, doi: 10.51741/sd.2021.60.1.19-35.
  • Šori, Iztok. O očetih “samohranilcih” in nasilju spolnih stereotipov. Dialogi, 2020, letn. 56, št. 9, str. 103-110. [COBISS.SI-ID 37455107]
  • Šori, IztokHoly family and holy love: individual and institutional reconstructing of masculinity in lone father families: contribution at the International Father Research Networking Conference “Care-Practices of Fathers in International Comparison: Do Policies Matter?” University of Applied Sciences Landshut, Germany, 16-18 January 2020. [COBISS.SI-ID 1305453]
  • Humer, Živa, Kuhar, Metka. Slovenia. V: Deutsch, Francine (ur.), Gaunt, Ruth A. (ur.). Creating equality at home : how 25 couples around the world share housework and childcare. 1st ed. Cambridge [etc.]: Cambridge University Press. 2020, [COBISS.SI-ID 25463299]
  • Kanjuo-Mrčela, Aleksandra, Bembič, Branko. Dynamics and consequences of de-feminisation of care. V: Europe and beyond : boundaries, barriers and belonging : abstract book, 14th European Sociological Association Conference, Manchester, 20-23 August 2019, str. 360. [COBISS.SI-ID 36287325]
  • Hrženjak, Majda, Doing, un-doing and re-doing gender and class in hands-on professional care. 2nd Global Carework Summit, 9-11 June 2019, Toronto, Ontario. UMass Lowell. [COBISS.SI-ID 1290093]
  • Hrženjak, Majda. Caring masculinities between forced choice and ethic of care. V: Book of abstracts : blurring boundaries : rethinking gender and care : University of Augsburg, Germany, March 13-15, 2019, str. 4-5. [COBISS.SI-ID 1279085]
  • Humer, Živa, Hrženjak, Majda. Men’s experiences of gender (in)equality as a primary or single parent from the perspective of heterogenity of masculinities. V: Europe and beyond : boundaries, barriers and belonging : abstract book, 14th European Sociological Association Conference, Manchester, 20-23 August 2019. Paris: European Sociological Association. cop. 2019, str. 328.  [COBISS.SI-ID 1302125]
  • Hrženjak, Majda. Multi-local and cross-border care loops : comparison of childcare and eldercare policies in Slovenia. Journal of European social policy, 2019, vol. 29, iss. 5, str. [640]-652. [COBISS.SI-ID 1301613]
  • Hrženjak, Majda. Spolni stereotipi in spolna segregacija trga dela : predstavitev na posvetu Izzivi enakosti spolov v osnovnošolskem kariernem svetovanju, Ljubljana, 21. maja 2019. [COBISS.SI-ID 1285229]
  • Frelih, Mojca. Izzivi moških v neformalni oskrbi za starejše ljudi z demenco v Sloveniji = Challenges for men in informal care for elderly people with dementia in Slovenia. V: Bezjak, Sonja (ur.), et al. Humanizem in etika v socialnem delu : zbornik povzetkov, 7. kongres socialnega dela, 16., 17. in 18. oktober 2019, Moravske Toplice. V Ljubljani: Fakulteta za socialno delo Univerze. 2019, str. 54. [COBISS.SI-ID 1293933]
  • Šori, Iztok. Lone fathers and the archetype of mother’s love : workshop at the Fatherhood and MenCare Meeting, Vienna, 24-25 October 2019. [COBISS.SI-ID 1297005]
  • Majda Hrženjak, Živa Humer: Caring Masculinities and Flexibilisation of Labour Markets: Fathers in Precarious and Managerial Employment. Gender Questions  Vol. 6, No 1 (2018), DOI.
  • Humer, Živa. Moški in skrb. Starejši za starejše : interno glasilo prostovoljcev in koordinatorjev za Južno Primorsko, 2018, leto 4, št. 8, str. 42-43, [COBISS.SI-ID 1267309]
  • Hrženjak, Majda. Changing fatherhood : men between parenting and labour market : invited lecture at the Seminar “Paid Domestic and Care Work in Peripheral Context”, Centro de Investigaciones Sociales – CONICET/Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social (CIS-CONICET/IDES), Buenos Aires, 26 March 2018. [COBISS.SI-ID 1234285]
  • Hrženjak, Majda, Humer, Živa. Caring masculinities and flexibilisation of labour markets : fathers in precarious and managerial employment in Slovenia. Gender questions, 2018, vol. 6, no. [COBISS.SI-ID 1256045]
  • Hrženjak, Majda. Involved fatherhood from the perspective of labour market precarisation = Angažovano očinstvo iz perspektive prekarnog tržišta rada : prispevek na konferenci “Muškarci u Srbiji: promene, otpori i izazovi: rezultati istraživanja o muškarcima i rodnoj ravnopravnosti” v okviru raziskave IMAGES, Beograd, 17. maja 2018. [COBISS.SI-ID 1241709]
  • Hrženjak, Majda, Humer, Živa, Frelih, Mojca. Educational and occupational gender segregation in care sector : Boys in Care : country report – Slovenia. Ljubljana: The Peace Institute, 2017 [COBISS.SI-ID 1241453]
  • Hrženjak, Majda. A qualitative study of labour market precarisation and involved fatherhood in SloveniaRevija za sociologiju : sociološki tromjesečnik, ISSN 0350-154X, 2017, vol. 47, no. 2, str. 207-232., doi: 10.5613/rzs.47.2.4.
  • Hrženjak, Majda. Kritične študije moških in moškosti : konteksti, koncepti in aplikacije. Časopis za kritiko znanosti, ISSN 0351-4285, 2017, letn. 45, št. 267, str. 9-21.
  • Humer, Živa. Sodobno očetovstvo med plačanim delom in skrbjo za otroke. Časopis za kritiko znanosti, ISSN 0351-4285, 2017, letn. 45, št. 267, str. 158-170.
  • Kanjuo-Mrčela, Aleksandra, Revinšek, Jasmina. Moški, ki opravljajo žensko delo : počasna defeminizacija vzgojiteljskega dela. Časopis za kritiko znanosti, ISSN 0351-4285, 2017, letn. 45, št. 267, str. 171-188.
  • Humer, Živa. The impact of flexibilization of work on caring masculinities. V: (Un)making Europe : capitalism, solidarities, subjectivities : abstract book, ISSN 2522-2562. Paris: European Sociological Association – ESA. 2017.
  • Stropnik, Nada, Humer, Živa. Fathers as mothers’ assistants : father involvement in Slovenia : presented at the Work and family researchers network conference “Careers care & life-course fit: implications for health, equality and policy”, Washington (D.C.), 23.-25. 6. 2016.
  • Schweiger, Teresa, Šori, Iztok. Normkritischer Zugang zu traditionellen und neuen Väterbildern : prispevek na konferenci “Papa* macht mit! – Theorie und Praxis zu Väter*bildern, Väter*gesundheit und Beteiligungsprozessen in Familien”, Dunaj, 13. november 2017.
  • Šori, Iztok (intervjuvanec), Humer, Živa (intervjuvanec)Vloge moških kot očetov : oddaja Intelekta, Radio Slovenija, 1. program, 25. 7. 2017.
  • Hrženjak, Majda. Sporty Boys and Fashion Girls: Manoeuvring Between Dominant Norms of Gender Identity v Šolsko poljeXXXI(5-6). doi:10.32320/1581-6044.31(5-6).


Project team consists of researchers from Peace Institute (aplicant) and University of Ljubljana- Faculty of Social Sicences (project partner): Majda Hrženjak (project leader); Aleksandra Kanjuo Mrčela; Branko Bembič, Mojca Frelih, Živa Humer in Iztok Šori.


Slovenian research agency ARRSLogo_2016_ang