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Soft Patriarchs, New Men

How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands

In the wake of dramatic, recent changes in American family life, evangelical and mainline Protestant churches took markedly different positions on family change. This work explains why these two traditions responded so differently to family change and then goes on to explore how the stances of evangelical and mainline Protestant churches toward marriage and parenting influenced the husbands and fathers that fill their pews.

According to W. Bradford Wilcox, the divergent family ideologies of evangelical and mainline churches do not translate into large differences in family behavior between evangelical and mainline Protestant men who are married with children. Mainline Protestant men, he contends, are "new men" who take a more egalitarian approach to the division of household labor than their conservative peers and a more involved approach to parenting than men with no religious affiliation. Evangelical Protestant men, meanwhile, are "soft patriarchs"—not as authoritarian as some would expect, and given to being more emotional and dedicated to their wives and children than both their mainline and secular counterparts. Thus, Wilcox argues that religion domesticates men in ways that make them more responsive to the aspirations and needs of their immediate families.

337 pages | 19 figures, 33 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2004

Morality and Society Series

Gender and Sexuality

Political Science: Political Behavior and Public Opinion

Religion: American Religions

Sociology: Sociology--Marriage and Family

Table of Contents

1. Religion: A Force for Reaction in the Gender Revolution?
2. Mainline and Conservative Protestant Production of Family and Gender Culture, 1950-1995
3. Family and Gender Attitudes among Mainline and Conservative Protestants
4. Soft Patriarchs, New Fathers: Religion, Ideology, and Fatherhood
5. Domestic Rites and Enchanted Relations: Religion, Ideology, and Household Labor
6. Tending Her Heart: Religion, Ideology, and Emotion Work in Marriage
7. Conclusion: Family Modernization, the Domestication of Men, and the Futures of Fatherhood
Appendix: Data, Methods, and Tables
List of Works Cited

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