Fatherhood in the context of social disadvantage: Constructions of fatherhood and attitudes towards parenting interventions of disadvantaged men in Scotland

Maxwell, Karen J. (2018) Fatherhood in the context of social disadvantage: Constructions of fatherhood and attitudes towards parenting interventions of disadvantaged men in Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Background: Research on men’s constructions of fatherhood has proliferated over the last three decades, but most studies have focused on middle-class men. There is a need for more research exploring how disadvantaged men conceptualise good fatherhood and relate to changing societal ideals of fatherhood. In addition, parenting interventions are particularly targeted at disadvantaged parents but little is known about how disadvantaged fathers feel about being targeted, and how best to engage them. This study set out to explore disadvantaged UK men’s constructions of fatherhood and attitudes towards parenting interventions. The THRIVE trial taking place in Glasgow, evaluating two antenatal parenting interventions for vulnerable parents, offered an opportunity to investigate these issues.
Methods: Thirty-six fathers or fathers-to-be (aged 15-51) were recruited through their partner’s participation in the THRIVE trial or through community organisations working with families in economically-deprived areas. Men participated in in-depth interviews, incorporating elements of repertory grids method. Interviews focused on the men’s upbringings, current circumstances, understandings of good fatherhood, and attitudes towards parenting interventions.
Findings: Socially-disadvantaged men’s constructions of good fatherhood were complex and multi-faceted. Men drew on multiple discourses in constructing fathering identities which combined ideas about ‘involved’ fathering with more ‘traditional’ ideas around provision, protection and responsibility. In doing so, these men worked hard to align themselves with socially-acceptable discourses of good fatherhood, demonstrating their awareness of, and engagement with, societally-dominant discourses of modern-day fatherhood. Barriers to the men enacting their visions of good fatherhood centred around: the legacy of their upbringings; difficult relationships with partners and ex-partners; desire to demonstrate an acceptable masculinity; and their disadvantaged circumstances, including the instability of their lives and lack of work. The majority of these men displayed positive attitudes towards attending a parenting intervention. Factors affecting their intentions to attend included: desire to support their partner and feel involved in her pregnancy, perceiving benefits for themselves and their partners, and the belief that the interventions were relevant and appropriate to their needs. Potential barriers were: fear of public scrutiny, perceived lack of information, perceived lack of ‘need’, and notions of acceptable masculinity.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that disadvantaged men held normative ideas about good fatherhood but that there were significant challenges facing them in living up to these ideals. Parenting interventions targeting disadvantaged fathers should therefore: capitalise on men’s excitement and commitment to partner and baby in the antenatal period; emphasize the relevance of content to the needs of disadvantaged men; and bear in mind potential barriers such as perceived lack of ‘need’, overcoming social anxieties, and notions of acceptable masculinity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: fathers fatherhood fathering disadvantage poverty "social exclusion" "working class fathers" "working class men" "parenting intervention" masculinity masculinities "disadvantaged fatherhood" "low income fatherhood" UK Scotland "scottish fatherhood" parenting parenthood.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences
Funder's Name: Medical Research Council (MRC)
Supervisor's Name: Buston, Dr. Katie M. and Wight, Professor Daniel
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr Karen J Maxwell
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-9101
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 May 2018 14:36
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2018 08:41
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/9101

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