Lone fatherhood: experience and perception, choice and constraint

Fox, Elizabeth. (2002) Lone fatherhood: experience and perception, choice and constraint. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis explores men's experience of raising children alone, and addresses a central question for men's engagement in care: Can men mother? If men can mother, what makes this possible? To what extent are breadwinning identities and mothers' care for children barriers to men's engagement in caring? If mothering is a constitutive activity based on a response to the perceived needs of children, what does caring mean to fathers, and what is the impact of caring for children in the absence of maternal mediation?

Based on evidence from an in depth qualitative study of fathers raising children alone, the study explores men's experience as primary carers for their children. Men's experience of paid employment, childcare and social and structural supports are examined, as is their experience of parenting and relationships with their children.

Research into men's participation in childcare and domestic labour in two parent families demonstrates that women continue to do most childcare and unpaid domestic work, and there is significant difficulty in engaging men in care. The psychological literature has underpinned a 'deficiency' perspective of fatherhood, and casts doubt on men's capacity to care, while evidence from social policy research casts doubt on men's willingness to care. The policy response to women's labour market participation has been slow, leaving a gap in care.

The findings of this study show how contemporary constructions of fatherhood impact on men's experiences. It will argue that, for men parenting alone, these constructions create a challenge to men's identities, which in turn creates tensions in men's perceptions of caring labour. However, these tensions do not need to be resolved in order for men to experience their parenting as positive, rather, the experience of doing care has the most significant impact on how men experience fatherhood, and having taken responsibility for care, fathers would be reluctant to relinquish it.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Morley, R.
Pascall, G.
Keywords: Single fathers, single-parent families, fatherhood, fathers, motherless families
Subjects: H Social sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 11680
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2010 14:28
Last Modified: 25 Dec 2017 18:11
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11680

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