Family Men: Fatherhood and Masculinity in Britain,

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1 Oxford Scholarship Online You are looking at 1-8 of 8 items for: keywords : approximation hisbmo hisfam Family Men: Fatherhood and Masculinity in Britain, Item type: book acprof:oso/ This book studies fathers and families in the period from the First World War to the end of the 1950s. It takes a thematic approach, examining different aspects of fatherhood in turn, from the duties it could and did encompass to the ways in which it related to men s identities. The historical approach is socio-cultural: each chapter examines a wide range of historical source materials in order to analyse both cultural representations of fatherhood and related social norms, and the practices and experiences of individuals and families. Source materials include newspapers, advice literature, films and novels, oral history interviews, social research, and letters. The history of fatherhood is extremely significant to contemporary debate: assumptions about fatherhood in the past are constantly used to support arguments about the state of fatherhood today and the need for change or otherwise in the future. Introduction acprof:oso/ This book argues that fatherhood changed significantly in the first half of the twentieth century. In introducing the book, this chapter outlines the integrated socio-cultural approach taken, the key arguments about fatherhood, masculinity, the influence of popular, national culture and social change in the twentieth century, and methodological considerations. This chapter suggests that the current historiographical focus on domestic masculinity and the domestication of men is not adequate, suggesting that the concept of a family-orientated Page 1 of 5

2 masculinity is a more appropriate description of ideas about masculine identity by the 1950s. This introduction gives an overview of the sources used in this study, including newspapers and other popular cultural sources, social research, and oral history interviews. Brought Me Anything, Dad? The Father as Provider acprof:oso/ This chapter argues that despite dramatic shifts in the context of male economic provision, such as the world wars, mass unemployment, and female suffrage and employment, breadwinning remained a crucial core of both fatherhood and masculinity. It highlights a new emphasis on providing the best standard of living possible, and new practices surrounding pocket money for children. It explores the growing intolerance of those who failed to provide for their families and the difficulties that unemployment presented. The chapter also explores the father s duty to provide an education for his children, and how this varied according to social class, as well as the expectation that fathers would help their children secure provision in the future through a career and/ or marriage. Finally, the chapter analyses the growing emphasis on the men s provision of presents, sweets and pocket money for their children. Wait Till Your Father Gets Home? The Father s Roles in the Family acprof:oso/ The bar for good fatherhood was raised by the end of the interwar period; provision of the basics was no longer seen as enough. This, along with a new psychological focus on parenting, meant that fathers roles within family life became increasingly important. Whilst the core duties of fatherhood entertaining, guiding/disciplining, and helping, and providing remained constant in previous and following periods, the meanings of these roles changed. This chapter highlights a new Page 2 of 5

3 psychological focus on the importance of play, and examines men s roles in helping their children developing mentally and emotionally The chapter considers men s responsibility for discipline and contends that in reality, mothers were as much or more involved in disciplinary matters as their husbands. Finally, the chapter explores men s roles as helpers to their wives, suggesting that fathers were getting more involving in bringing up children even if they did not take much part in domestic labour. A Good Pal? Fathers Emotional Relationships acprof:oso/ The key argument of this chapter is that this period witnessed a new psychological focus on the father child relationship, as part of an intensification of parenting. However, experiences of this were diverse, and men s relationships with children were mixed with both positive and negative emotions. The chapter examines the new emphasis on motherhood and fatherhood in advice literature and the press, and how parents evaluated their importance. It explores more negative emotions associated with father child interactions, as well as very difficult and abusive relationships. It contends that for the most part, though physical intimacy and expressions of love were limited, affection and fondness were important dimensions within numerous father child relationships. The chapter examines how emotions and the framing of relationships could be gendered, and contends that a new rhetoric of friendship between fathers and children emerged by the end of the period researched. Master of the House? The Father s Position, Power, and Authority acprof:oso/ Page 3 of 5

4 This chapter argues there was a shift in both understandings and practices of authority and power within the family, as the loss of authority fathers had undergone since the era of the Victorian patriarch became seen as increasingly positive. Indeed, fathers became understood as essential family members. This chapter analyses men s position as distant and separate from mothers and children, and explores the changing status of men as heads of household. In particular, there was an increasingly prominent rejection of the Victorian patriarch, in both public debates and individual families. The chapter also explores the legal position of fathers, paying particular attention the Guardianship Act of 1925 and the debates surrounding it, as well as examining authority over money within family life. Finally, it is suggested that the father was increasingly positioned at the heart of family life in the wake of the Second World War. Performing Fatherhood and Masculinity: Parenting and Gender Identities acprof:oso/ Fatherhood could both prove and challenge masculinity. This chapter treats fatherhood as an identity, arguing that a new, family-orientated (rather than domestic) masculinity emerged in this period. The chapter explores how provision for dependants could secure a man s adult masculine status, and how unemployment could be harmful not only in the physical deprivation caused but in the effects it had on men s selfworth and identity. This chapter examines how fatherhood and masculine identity could be performed differently in private and public, and how fatherhood related to men s public status as citizens. It analyses the connection between fatherhood, paternity and sexuality, highlighting particularly the ways in which virility and producing children could cement a man s status. On the other hand, caring for infants and being too close to the feminine world of birth and babies could endanger men s identities and manliness, and the chapter explores how men dealt with these difficulties. Page 4 of 5

5 Conclusion: Changing Fathers, Changing Men? acprof:oso/ Page 5 of 5

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