Contemporary fathering

Theory, policy and practice

Brid Featherstone

Contemporary fathering

Brid Featherstone

Distributed for Policy Press at the University of Bristol

232 pages | © 2009  
Paper $35.95 ISBN: 9781861349873 Published April 2009 For sale in North and South America only
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.

One: Introduction
Locating service provision issues within contemporary political developments
Locating this book: theoretically (and political) speaking 
Aims and structure

Two: The contemporary context
Change, continuity and diversity
Work and care
Fathers are doing what?
Fathers, violence and abuse
A brief look at the implications for practice

Three: The historical context
Images, roles, responsibilities
From rights to duties to responsibilities: fathers ‘unmade’

Four: Freud and his legacy
The ‘daddy’ of them all
It’s ready mummy who counts
‘Return’ to the father
The feminist return to mummy and daddy, or maybe not?
Recent developments in ‘mainstream’ psychoanalysis: refinement and critique 
Poststructuralists: deconstructing the father?

Five: Psychological perspectives
The background
Developmental psychology: truth or norm?
The child, the mother and attachment anxieties
The ‘role’ of the father in child development: beyond developmental psychology
Impact of father involvement on children
‘Critical’ psychologies

Six: Sociological perspectives
The ‘role’ of the father
Sociology and family journeys
Family practices and intimacy: what about fathers?
Sociology and fathers: future directions?

Seven: The politics of fatherhood: contemporary developments
Categorising the politics of masculinity: where do fathers fit?
Why are men getting involved?
Decoding their calls and claims
Feminism and fathers’ groups

Eight: Contemporary social policies
Policy matters
New Labour: from welfare to investment
‘Distant’ fathers
Rights, responsibilities and fathers
Antisocial behaviour and the Respect agenda 
Child support
New Labour, fathers and the ‘democratic’ family
Some comparative insights

Nine: Working with fathers
Setting the scene
Fathers Matter: round 1
Dads talk about services
Constructions of fathers, mothers and children
But what did mothers say?
Fathers Matter: round 2
Survey of education
Reflections on Complexity in a context of denial

Ten: Reflections on a decade of working with fathers
Meeting fathers: a learning process
Engaging fathers: policy and practice

Eleven: Concluding remarks 

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