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Contemporary fathering

Contemporary fathering: Theory, policy and practice

Brid Featherstone
Copyright Date: 2009
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary fathering
    Book Description:

    Since 1997, child welfare services have been faced with new demands to engage fathers or develop father-inclusive services. This book emerges from work by the author as a researcher and educator over many years on the issues posed by this agenda for child welfare practitioners in a variety of contexts. In locating fathers, fathering and fatherhood within a historical and social landscape, the book addresses issues seldom taken up in practice settings. It explores diversity and complexity in fathering in different disciplines such as psychoanalysis, sociology and psychology and analyses contemporary developments in social policies and welfare practices. The author employs a feminist perspective to highlight the opportunities and dangers in contemporary developments for those wishing to advance gender equity. A key strength of the book is its inter-disciplinary focus. It will be required reading for students, graduate and postgraduate, of social work, social policy, sociology and child and family studies. Academic researchers will also find the book invaluable because of its breadth of scholarship.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-603-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    There has been increasing interest in fathers, fathering and fatherhood from a diverse range of constituencies in the last decades in the UK.¹ Research has blossomed, successive governments have legislated and, particularly since 1997, child welfare services have been faced with new demands to engage fathers or develop father-inclusive services.

    This book emerges from work by the author, as a researcher and educator since 1999, on the issues posed by this agenda for child welfare practitioners in a variety of contexts (Sure Start, the voluntary sector and social work/social care). It is hoped that, by locating fathers, fatherhood and fathering...

  5. TWO The contemporary context
    (pp. 19-38)

    The purpose of this chapter is to offer an overview of the demographic features of the contemporary context in relation to fathers, fathering and fatherhood. How much are fathers doing with their children? What about housework? These are some of the issues considered here. Although most of the research highlights trends in the UK, experiences from other countries are also drawn on. The primary aim is to set the context for discussions in subsequent chapters in relation to theories, policies and practices.

    Changes in marital patterns have excited much debate and concern. In the UK, married couples are the main...

  6. THREE The historical context
    (pp. 39-52)

    This chapter explores historical debates. An extensive literature exists outlining serious theoretical and methodological debates and disagreements. A ‘bottom-up’ perspective from a variety of sources has sought to point out the exclusions of the ‘great White men’ view of history, which are so often dominant. Poststructuralists such as Scott (1992) have questioned whether there are transparent stories from those previously excluded, which are awaiting excavation and, indeed, whether concepts developed in one era can be employed to understand behaviours in previous times. The role and subjectivity of the historian himself/herself has been highlighted. The use of history as a political...

  7. FOUR Freud and his legacy
    (pp. 53-68)

    This chapter explores how fathers have been constructed within psychoanalytic thought. In particular, the feminists who engage with psychoanalysis continue to develop thinking on fathers in interesting and contested ways.

    As outlined in Chapter One, this chapter and the following two need to be viewed as interrelated. While this chapter tells about how fathers have been constructed psychoanalytically, and Chapters Five and Six concentrate on psychological and sociological perspectives, feminist and pro-feminist theorists are involved in all. Moreover, there is increasing evidence of a psychosocial approach being developed by a range of researchers from differing disciplinary backgrounds. Poststructuralist approaches are...

  8. FIVE Psychological perspectives
    (pp. 69-86)

    As anyone who has worked in a university department containing psychologists knows only too well, there is no one psychology, but different, often highly conflicting, types – for example, behaviourism, social psychology, critical social psychology – with feminists involved in many of the areas. Developmental psychology’s status is not clear. As Burman (1994) notes it is considered by some not to be a domain or type of psychology but rather a perspective or an approach encompassing all other areas of psychology. Developmental psychology’s main focus has been to study child development and, in that context, the role of mothers and,...

  9. SIX Sociological perspectives
    (pp. 87-108)

    As sociologists engage more with the diversity and complexity of fathers, fathering and fatherhood exciting possibilities appear to be emerging for future research.

    This chapter explores key themes in a journey from the rigidity of role models to contemporary work around intimacy, the ‘meaning’ of children, the body, and feminist and pro-feminist work particularly in relation to masculinities. The latter highlights how crucial it is that individual practices by men as fathers, including the kinds of knowledge they draw on, are located within wider social relations.

    European sociology had its origins in the social upheavals and intellectual aspirations of the...

  10. SEVEN The politics of fatherhood: contemporary developments
    (pp. 109-126)

    This chapter explores one of the most visible and controversial aspects of fathering today – the emergence of many men who seek to articulate claims as fathers.¹ It concentrates on the UK with a limited exploration of international developments. The chapter is based mainly on an exploration of the academic literature, although a survey of websites conducted specifically for the chapter does inform some of the thinking.² As other chapters have done, it draws briefly from the author’s own research, which is explored in more depth in Chapters Nine and Ten.

    A number of writers have constructed typologies of masculinity...

  11. EIGHT Contemporary social policies
    (pp. 127-154)

    The last decade has seen a limited focus on men as fathers within a wide-ranging project emphasising the importance of investing in children. There has been an array of developments in relation to strengthening the responsibilities of birth fathers and some opening up of possibilities for social fathering through legislation. There have been moves towards supporting both mothers and fathers in sharing care, although these are limited and do not seem concerned to promote gender equity. This chapter identifies the key developments in policies, analysing their rationale and, where possible, identifying effects. A brief attempt is made to locate such...

  12. NINE Working with fathers
    (pp. 155-174)

    This chapter and Chapter Ten focus on practice issues, drawing from a range of research and evaluation projects that the author has been involved in over the last decade. This chapter concentrates on a piece of research in a neglected and difficult area, that where families come to the attention of services because of concerns about violence and neglect. While the findings confirm some well-known issues, some, hitherto unidentified, tensions and dilemmas are explored.

    Service development and underpinning philosophies differ from country to country, reflecting views about the appropriate roles and responsibilities of parents, employers and the state in relation...

  13. TEN Reflections on a decade of working with fathers
    (pp. 175-192)

    This chapter reflects on a range of research and evaluation projects engaged with by the author in a variety of contexts in the last decade. As Chapter Eight noted, a boost to work in this area in England was the funding of a range of initiatives under the family support grant at the Home Office¹ in 1999. Since then a range of specialist and mainstream initiatives have been funded. The chapter explores some of the research and evaluation initiatives the author has been involved in. It identifies some of the key issues when considering who will engage fathers, the differing...

  14. ELEVEN Concluding remarks
    (pp. 193-196)

    This book would probably not have been considered relevant to practitioners 20 years ago. It would certainly not have been able to draw from the wealth of literature it has drawn on. It emerges from a period of profound change in relationships between men, women and children and attempts by governments to adapt to these changes. Alongside examples of cooperative gendered settlements, achieved against considerable odds, are to be found tendencies among men and women, in a range of differing sectors of society, to invest in children but treat the mothers or fathers of those children with hostility and suspicion....

  15. References
    (pp. 197-216)
  16. Index
    (pp. 217-224)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 225-225)