Chapter

The historical context

Brid Featherstone

in Contemporary fathering

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9781861349880
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301974 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861349880.003.0003
The historical context

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This chapter outlines historical debates about images, roles, and responsibilities in previous times and the making of the ‘modern’ father, particularly, though not exclusively, through the law. Historians, such as Gillis, have emphasised the dominant role that fathers have played in children's lives and have suggested that, as men's economic roles have increasingly drawn them outside the home and into the marketplace, women have extended their sphere of domestic influence. Others, such as Collier, caution against seeing this as a diminution of men's power. The emergence of the father as breadwinner was a feature of the transition to industrialisation, but has come under pressure in the latter part of the twentieth century. It is argued that it is not possible to read history as supporting a straightforward picture of fathers' roles and responsibilities; complexity and diversity must be acknowledged. This is important as it is often invoked, alongside biology, as supporting the idea of a desirable past where men and women both knew their places and stuck to them.

Keywords: fathers; images; roles; responsibilities; gender roles; economic roles

Chapter.  5999 words. 

Subjects: Comparative and Historical Sociology

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