Parent Image As An Integral Indicator Of Parenthood Subculture


The article is devoted to the discussion of the parent image issue in the context of parenthood subculture. The topicality is caused by the increasing attention to the family and parenthood institution in modern Russia. The article presents an analysis of the parenthood subculture phenomenon as one of the identity and special world picture variants which are reflected in the objectification of individual values and personal relations through self-analysis of the goals and mechanisms reproduction of sociocultural constants in the parent image as an integral indicator of the parenthood subculture development. The article also reveals theoretical and methodological approaches to the semantic content of the parent image in scientific psychological studies, describes the empirical study results where the main characteristics of the parent image have been identified. It is proved that the semantic content of the parent image is ambiguous in scientific psychological researches. In many aspects its specificity is determined by the peculiarities of the parenthood value reflection and acceptance by Russians with the pronounced parenthood recognition as a sociocultural phenomenon and the parent image content becomes heterogeneous content. The parent image is represented by a set of value-semantic and instrumental characteristics reflecting both the parenthood value orientations, parental feelings and responsibility, and attitudes and practices related to family planning, attitude to children as well as parental behavior and education styles. The revealed characteristics form the parenthood subculture filling it with knowledge, values, style and parents’ lifestyle.

Keywords: Parent imageparenthood subculture


In modern Russia special attention is paid to the parenthood institution strengthening because supporting the parenthood subculture and consolidation of the spiritual and moral traditions of family values and relationships is a powerful moral framework for our multi-ethnic society (Message of the President of the Russian Federation to the Federal Assembly, 2019). This is reflected at all government policy levels. The state family policy priorities in parents supporting at present are the traditional family values and lifestyle affirmation, the revival and preservation of spiritual and moral traditions in family relations and education, the creation of conditions for family prosperity ensuring, responsible parenthood, and increasing parents authority in the family and society and maintaining of the social stability of each family.

Despite the measures taken the parenthood institute is in sustained deep crisis caused by the transformation and transition process from its traditional form to the modernized one (Lushchenko, 2016; Schreiber, 2013). Birth rates and marriages reduction, the spread of divorces, unregistered and late marriages, the emergence of new parental types, the orientation of state authorities to search for new mechanisms in the legal and economic regulation of the demographic situation in the country in the absence of consistency in this parenthood approach, reassessment of social status and value-semantic content of its subculture, structure and content of modern parents image and alternative parental behavior patterns (Vasyagina, 2017). Theoretical and methodological suppositions for the study were the «imagination sociology» concepts (Mills, 2001) which allow considering theoretical possibilities for analyzing the person and his microsocial world relationship as well as ideas about subculture as one from the variants of identity formed by incorporating social experiences into the life goals and values ensuring their harmonious entry into this subculture world (Martsinkovskaya, 2013). Thus, the entry into the parenthood world and the parental identity acquisition is ensured in the process of men and women accepting the new role of a parent and assimilating the parenthood goals, values and senses.

Taking into account the subculture idea as a special picture of the world which is common for a certain large group of people (Sokolov, 1997) combining knowledge, values, styles and lifestyles as well as social institutions as a system of norms, methods, skills, abilities, ways of implementation, needs and inclinations (Slyusarevsky, 2002). It should consider the point of view of Isakov (2015) about its embodiment in value-semantic content which is determined by the objectification of individual values and personal relationships as a result of the reflection of reproduction goals and mechanisms of socio-cultural constants in the parental experience. In this connection parenthood’s value orientations not only specify its motivation and functions in modern society but also determine social types, social relations features and behavior in the future society (Isakov, 2015). A parental identity indicator is the parent image as an integral indicator of the parenting subculture development.

In preparing the empirical research, we also focused on four basic areas of scientific and psychological research determining the semantic content of the parent image.

The first direction (Vasyagina, 2013; Guggenbuhl-Craig, 1997; Isaev & Kagan, 1988; Kon, 1987, 1988; Kochubey, 1990; Meshcheryakova, 2000; Ovcharova & Ermihina, 2003; Tokareva, 2009; Ramikh, 1995, Basimov & Padurina, 2012) is represented by studies handling the parent image content through the family relations problematics where the mother and father act as independent subjects of parent-child interaction, and parenthood their life purpose and socio-psychological function, while the parent image is represented fragmentarily.

The second direction reveals the parent image in the study of deviant and dysfunctional parenthood phenomena (Baz & Bazhenova, 1996; Isupova, 2000; Varga, 2001; Golod, 1998; Pushkareva, 1996; Ramikh, 1995; Repina, 1998; Skolnik & Skolnik, 1971; Spivakovskaya, 1986; Schreiber, 2013; Eidemiller & Yustickis, 1999) the reasons are in the contradictions of Russians value-semantic orientations. According to the authors such contradictions determine the personality model formation which is not adequately provided for the parent image and parenthood readiness, loss of the parenthood reproductive function, intergenerational connections and traditional ways of transferring the parent-child interaction experience.

In the context of the third research direction, the parent image content is developed by the problematic of man and woman conscious reproductive behavior, their conscious parenthood (Brutman & Radionova, 1997; Karabanova, 2001; Meshcheryakova, 2000; Parke, 1996; Spivakovskaya, 1986; Filippova, 1993, 1996; Schneider, 2000, 2005). This tendency is due to the popularization and strengthening of attitudes in consciousness modern Russians with regard to conscious reproductive behavior requiring a person of high maturity and reflexivity. Therefore, parenthood becomes not just as a necessary function or obligation but as a socially significant activity (Zakharova, 2010), and a psychosocial phenomenon (Ovcharova, 2005; Filippova, 1996).

The fourth direction is designated by a set of studies (Vasyagina & Gazizova, 2019; Lippo & Posokhova, 2006; Ushakova, 2006; Petrenko, 2005; Miller, 2005) in which the parent image appears as a psychical reflection phenomenon where its substantial fullness is represented by psycho-semantic repertory content (Vasyagina & Gazizova, 2019). In these studies the parent image is viewed through the father and mother images prism as components of the family and parenthood images reinforcing the parental status hierarchy and central place in the family image and parenthood composition (Isaev & Kagan, 1988; Ryzhkova, 2008; Troshinа, 2006; Rossi, 1984).

Problem Statement

The parenting subculture phenomenology as research subject area is reflected in various scientific branches as in philosophy, cultural studies, sociology, psychology and pedagogy, etc. emphasize actively the significance of this phenomenon for an individual and society as a whole. Despite the heightened interest in the studied topic the scientific community has not developed a common approach to its understanding. Meanwhile, the parenting subcultures study as a special mechanism of socialization, specification of modern parent image structure and content allows us to find the ways of regulating the demographic policy and strengthening the parenthood institution as moral improvement mechanism of our multicultural society.

Research Questions

We suppose that the parental image as an integral indicator of the parenthood subculture is a complex mental background functioning within a multilevel reflection system and combines value-semantic and instrumental characteristics revealing the parenthood value orientations, attitudes and practices of family education and life, adoption and satisfaction of the parent role as well as parental feelings and responsibility, parental behavior and education styles as basic elements of particular subculture. Therefore, we consider it possible to carry out a theoretical analysis of the parent image problems and to identify the key characteristics of the modern parent image. We are interested in the following research questions as what the parenthood subculture content is? How is the semantic content of the parent image revealed in scientific psychological research? What are the key characteristics of this image at present?

Purpose of the Study

In this article we have represented an analysis of research on the parent image problems and have identified the key characteristics of the modern parent image as an integral indicator of the parenthood subculture.

Research Methods

The study involved 250 respondents. The sample is balanced by age and gender, territorial signs and is representative in its composition. The age of respondents is from 16 to 75 years. Residences are Perm Territory, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, Omsk, Kurgan, Samara, Saratov, Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, Ulyanovsk, Chelyabinsk Regions.

The study involved two stages, at the first stage, a theoretical and methodological analysis of the parenthood subculture of and the reflection of the parent image semantic content problematics in scientific psychological studies were introduced; in the second one, in the empirical study, the parent image substantial characteristics were determined, and the basic characteristics of the parent image were defined by means of mathematical-statistical processing of the obtained data.

In accordance with the objectives we have used the psych diagnostic package of the following methods such as the NEO-PI-R questionnaire - form Ushakova (2006) questionnaire «Ideas about maternity» (modified version), the method of Lippo and Posokhova (2006) «Father-child relationship» (modified version), projective technique «Image of the parent», composition «Modern parent».


To solve the issues stated in the research we used survey-analytical (literature analysis and modeling), psych diagnostic (questionnaires and projective techniques) and mathematical-statistical (cluster analysis) methods.

To achieve stated objective, we applied the cluster analysis method allowed us to determine the main characteristics of the parent image of. Processing the data, we focused on the classic Ward clustering method identifying two clusters united the classes of value-semantic and instrumental characteristics of the studied parent image.

The class of the parent image value-semantic characteristics fill the formal and assessment categories reflecting the parenthood meanings and the parental roles assessment (parenthood meanings, perception about the categories «parent», «parenthood», «father», «mother», perception about the advantages and disadvantages of modern fathers and mothers, advantages and disadvantages of parenthood - 118 objects); role of behavior models aimed at the educational functions implementation (perception about the motherhood and fatherhood functions, a parent self-actualization in the socio-cultural space, parent attitude to children, satisfaction with the parent relationship, support degree received from the parent in different periods of life, parents educational role in the spiritual children life - 36 objects); family, parenthood and childhood values (parental attitudes on forming children’s lifestyles, family, children, love, health, material and spiritual prosperity, self-development, professional fulfillment, education, physical attractiveness, creativity, recreation and social recognition values - 32 objects).

The class of instrumental characteristics contains a set of moral and ethical qualities (responsibility, commitment, faithfulness, reliability, honesty, stability pursuance, being organized, adjustment for family preservation, caring for relatives, performing parental functions in creating conditions for a happy childhood and protecting family values - 25 objects); emotional and sensual characteristics (tranquility, stability, ability to self-sacrifice, readiness for parenthood, acceptance and satisfaction with a parent role, pursuance for custody, anxiety - 18 objects); and attitudes and practices ensuring the effective communication with the external world and especially with children (parental attitudes to the experience and knowledge transfer to children, parental support, trust, higher values, communication, benevolence, optimism, reflection, empathy - 14 objects).

The obtained data are confirmed in our early studies on the motherhood phenomenon (Leus, 2001; Vasyagina & Gazizova, 2019) as well as in other studies devoted to the study of the paternity phenomenon (Kon, 1998; Lippo & Posokhova, 2006).

The semantic content of the parent image in scientific psychological research is ambiguous, in many respects its specificity is determined by the reflection degree and the nature of the parenthood value adoption of the Russians worldview. With pronounced parenthood recognition as a socio-cultural phenomenon the content of the parent image acquires a heterogeneous semantic content and requires further research.

The parent image is represented by a set of value-semantic and instrumental characteristics. The content of the main characteristics of the parent image reflects both the parenthood value orientation, parental feelings and responsibility as well as parental attitudes and practices related to family planning, attitude to oneself as a parent, attitude to children as well as parental behavior and education styles. The revealed characteristics form the parenthood subculture filling it with knowledge, values, and parents’ lifestyle. Therefore, it is fundamentally important to study the specifics of the parent image identifying the factors determining its contentfulness, revising the features of its representation at different levels of psychical reflection.


The scientific community still has not developed a unified approach to the study of the parent image phenomenon. With a pronounced recognition of parenthood as a sociocultural phenomenon, the parent image content acquires a non-uniform semantic content and is mainly determined by the reflection degree and the nature of the parenthood value adoption in the Russians worldview. Please replace this text with context of your paper.

Meanwhile, the study of parenthood subculture as a special mechanism of socialization, clarifying the structure and content of the modern parent image identifying the factors determining its meaningful content, clarifying the characteristics of its representation at different levels of psychical reflection allows us to approach finding ways to regulate demographic policy and strengthen the parenthood institution as a moral improvement mechanism of our multicultural society.

In this context, it becomes obvious that rethinking this phenomenon as an integral indicator that reveals the motherhood and fatherhood role within the modern parenthood subculture makes it possible to estimate real innovations at the family, society and the state level.


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