Imagining a Good Life without Children: An ethnographic exploration of how Dutch people who desire to not have children aspire and realize a meaningful life and future without having children
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The Netherlands could be contextualized as a neoliberal country where the nuclear family as the cornerstone of society, derived from the Christian dominance of the past centuries, is embodied as the norm. This thesis explores how Dutch people who desire to remain childfree imagine and realize a good life and future. The individual accounts collected in this research show aspirations and concerns Dutch people who desire to remain childfree have regarding a good life and future. That is having the freedom and flexibility to develop and pursue the dreams they envision personally. The privileged and secure position these people are situated in enables them to realize aspirations and manage concerns about their life and future. Nevertheless, these people face stigmatizations such as selfishness, immaturity, and emotional instability in the exploration. These stigmatizations are constructed through heteronormative and pronatalist representations in popular media, advertising, healthcare, and education. These Dutch people who desire to remain childfree challenge these stigmatizations. They do this by exploring different forms of kinmaking and parenthood, such as raising children collectively instead of exclusively and establishing kinstructures based on friendship and identity instead of bloodlines. This thesis contributes to the interdependency between scholarship on voluntary childlessness and the anthropological research on the good life and anthropology of the future.
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