More than the sum of its parts? Contemporary fatherhood policy, practice and discourse

Esther Dermott, Tina Millar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


The 'involved' father, who is emotionally and economically engaged, has become a recognisable ideal in many Western societies. Policy changes have to varying degrees endorsed practices of involvement especially around the time of birth and during the early weeks and months of a child's life. Discursive changes are discernible too as men engage a language of caring, bonding and emotional, intimate connection through 'being there' as a father. And research on the everyday practices of fathers also indicates some degree of change. But how far are these shifts indicative of a new type of fatherhood? In this article we document key research findings, assess their significance and most importantly assess what is the cumulative effect of these changes. We conclude that while contemporary practices of fathering must be understood and explained within broader cultural and economic milieu, the multiplicity of shifts does indeed infer a new durability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-195
Number of pages13
JournalFamilies, Relationships and Societies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


  • Caring practices
  • Discourse
  • Fatherhood
  • Gender
  • Involvement
  • Policy
  • Work


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