Faroese fatherhood in transition: Exploring everyday life, family relations and across two generations of men in contemporary Faroe Islands

  • Gaini, Firouz (PI)
  • Ísfeld, Runa Preeti (CoI)
  • Djurhuus, Jónleyg (CoI)
  • Hansen, Elsa Maria (CoI)
  • Busk Vang, Sunniva (CoI)
  • Ali, Ibrar (CoI)

Project Details


This interdisciplinary project presents new perspectives on gender and gender differences in the Faroes. It investigates the Faroese family model by exploring the everyday lives, (gender) identities, and intergenerational relations of men of diverse background. The project promotes (local) knowledge on fatherhood and parenthood across two generations, and connects this knowledge to social, political and economic contexts. The main aim is to generate new insights, develop new knowledge, and to identify existing manifestations of gender inequalities in society.

This project has explored and analyzed the contemporary Faroese family from the fathers’ perspectives. It has discussed gender and family values generally, and fathering practices and fatherhood ideals specifically, based on the narratives of Faroese men. The project’s aim was to use ethnographic methods to get a better understanding of transformation and continuity in the Faroese family. The objective was to investigate in which way everyday life practice resonates family/fatherhood values, and vice versa.

This project has yielded a wealth of knowledge concerning Faroese fathers, fatherhood and fathering practices in a small-scale island community in cultural and social transformation. The results of the project have shown us that there is a large gap between the dominant cultural discourse on men and the ‘real’ everyday lives and personal narratives of fathers in the Faroe Islands. Its findings have clearly demonstrated the diversity and fluidity characterizing men’s identities as fathers today.

It contributes to academic discourse and public debate about fathers, family life, gender equality and justice in a society in shift. It unsettles taken-for-granted assumptions and makes restrained knowledge on fathers accessible; in other words, it displays tacit knowledge about fathers – their fathering practices, values and intimacy in family relations. Based on qualitative methods, first of all individual biographical interviews, the ethnographic project lets men themselves narrate their life before and after becoming a father. It contributes to theory on fatherhood and masculinity with the case of fathers from a small-scale island community. Its theoretical perspective is critical and future-oriented. Its approach contrasts the crisis-hit post-patriarchal figure with a different representation of what it means to be yesterday’s, today’s, or tomorrow’s man.

Our project has, through literature reviews, interviews and group discussions, as well as a national online suvey, contributed to the scholarly work aiming to demystify and unpack the Faroese family model by exploring and analysing the everyday lives, gender identities, and patterns of intergenerational relations of men of diverse background. The project has thereby succeeded in its goal of contributing to a better understanding of the diversity and social transitions characterizing Faroese society in the 21st century. It has also examined the complex dynamics of family/work life constellations today. It has filled the gap of research exploring the multilayered gender identities of men and women, and the meaning of parenthood in Faroese society. The project has also addressed challenges connected to legislation and policy on family and children. With its interdisciplinary and practice-oriented approach, the project has contributed with new perspectives on gender and gender differences, and has, thus, gathered information needed for policy-making, planning, and general assessment of societal development in the Faroes. It has also communicated (local) knowledge on fatherhood and parenthood across two generations, and connected this knowledge to social, political and economic contexts. The project has contribute to the reassessment of fatherhood and masculinity in the Faroe Islands in support of a society based on equal rights and dignity. It has generated new insights, developped new knowledge, and identified existing manifestations of gender inequalities in society.

The project has demonstrated that the style of fathering reflects much more than ‘masculine’ values and styles. We have seen that opportunity structures – related to place and mobility, work and social/cultural values – do indeed impact the social organisation of the family and the gendered aspects of parenthood. The project demonstrates that Faroese fatherhood represents a peculiar combinations of ‘traditional’ and new norms and styles, depending on stage in life and cultural identity. Fatherhood studies have often portrayed men as a ‘problem’ for the family, because of the fathers’ presumed unproductive style of behaviour hindering the opening of a modern non-hierarchical, democratic and caretaking family, but this doe not fit our Faroese study. The case of the Faroe Islands has uncovered an interesting interplay between culture and gender in complex family networks – hence also in the Faroese family’s own understanding of the value and role of parenthood and fatherhood.

Faroese fathers spend much more time at home, and together with their family, today than what was common some 30 years ago. From the sons’ and daughters’ ideational perspective, the father is much more than a family member—and cohabitant within the household, married to the mother—because he is a source of inspiration, a coach and supporter in the difficult and precarious transition from childhood to adulthood, but also a ‘soul mate’ that gives them a feeling of affection and safety.

When a girl says that her father understands her ‘in a different way than others do’, and that this understanding is important to her, she also says that he gives her something that, in principle, cannot easily be provided by a surrogate, because of the imagined primordial bonds between child and father. The Faroese father is sometimes exoticized as an icon of something ‘authentic’ in a globalising world, as the body of capsuled stories about the Faroese family of the past, but he is also, in the everyday life of the modern family, presented as the (handy) man struggling to find the perfect balance between being at home and being away.

Short titleFaroese Fatherhood
Effective start/end date1/09/1831/12/22

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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