Deadbeat Dads

Deadbeat Dads: Subjectivity and Social Construction

DEENA MANDELL
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442673731
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  • Book Info
    Deadbeat Dads
    Book Description:

    Non-payment of child support is often categorized as an individual act of deviance or moral failing, reinforcing resistance and disengagement on the part of fathers by causing them to see themselves as victims whose personal rights are under threat.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7373-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    This book is about separated and divorced fathers′ perceptions regarding payment of support for children with whom they no longer live. It is about their perceptions of themselves, too, as fathers, husbands, and citizens, and about the social context in which these perceptions of self, or identities, have taken shape. My interest in the issue of non-payment of child support arose out of my own clinical experience with families separated by divorce. Especially challenging for those of us who work with non-supporting fathers is the tendency of many to present themselves as hostile, self-interested, and provocative. Effective practice as a...

  6. 1 Fathers and Divorce: Personal and Institutional Processes
    (pp. 13-59)

    The impact of non-support on women and children was identified during the 1980s as a major social problem in North America and in the West generally. In the overwhelming majority of cases where child support has been ordered by a Canadian court, the payor is the father. Where a court order existed following separation or divorce, close to 80 per cent of children under the age of twelve were placed in their mother′s custody, 7 per cent were placed in their father′s custody, and the remaining 13 per cent were in a shared custody arrangement (Marcil-Gratton and Le Bourdais, 1999)....

  7. 2 The Study
    (pp. 60-82)

    The starting point for this research is our inability to account for the failure of so many divorced and separated fathers to support their children adequately. So far we have failed to find ways to engage the majority of separated fathers in behaviour that is congruent with what is expected of them by both the law and society as a whole. The research on which this book is based was inspired by this question: Why is it so?

    In this chapter I outline this study′s conceptual framework and methodology. The conceptual framework has four elements:

    1 The perspective of critical...

  8. 3 The Fathers′ Perspective
    (pp. 83-130)

    The following chapters present the findings from the study described in the previous chapter. Chapter 3 is about the fathers; chapter 4 focuses on the legal context and chapter 5 on the institutional context in which the fathers′ subjective positions are understood to take shape. The sixth and final chapter will discuss the interaction of subjectivity and institutional discourses against a wider ideological and socioeconomic background.

    In this chapter about fathers, I present a collective description of the participants and then profile each father. In the analysis of the fathers′ material, I focus on their presentation of self in terms...

  9. 4 Looking at Legal Texts
    (pp. 131-161)

    This chapter examines how the statutes and case law relevant to custody, access, and support construct fathers. The purpose is to uncover how these texts fit into the relationship between fathers, institutions, and law as the separation/divorce process unfolds. The emphasis is on identifying the social identities made available to fathers through the constructions in these texts. I examine how separated and divorced men are constructed as parents, husbands, and members of society by the body of law represented in the sample of legal texts. Throughout this part of the analysis, the role of the state as it intervenes in...

  10. 5 How the Institutional Informants See It
    (pp. 162-208)

    In this chapter I report key findings based on analysis of data collected from institutional informants. Through their role as ′activators of text,′ they give an interpretation of the law, policies, and procedures related to divorce and separation. The institutions and groups of professionals chosen for representation in this study are the ones most involved in interacting with separated couples around issues of support payment. These are provincial family court (two White male judges); the enforcement agency, known at the time as the Family Support Plan (the male administrator and two lawyers - both White, one male and one female...

  11. 6 Putting It All Together
    (pp. 209-244)

    The question that launched this project was: Why have we been so unsuccessful in our efforts to get non-custodial fathers as a group to be responsible for the financial well-being of their dependants? How are we to interpret the fact that many fathers respond to the identity of ′deadbeat′ by claiming a victim identity instead of behaving as responsible providers? The questions that guided the analysis were as follows:

    What are the themes and constructs through which the fathers in the sample present themselves?

    What are the constructs of fathering and family that the state makes available in the context...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 245-250)
  13. References
    (pp. 251-264)
  14. Index
    (pp. 265-281)