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Falling back into Gender? Men's Narratives and Practices around First-time Fatherhood

Tina Miller
Sociology
Vol. 45, No. 6 (DECEMBER 2011), pp. 1094-1109
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42857601
Page Count: 16
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Abstract

This article explores men's articulations and practices of gender through transition to first-time fatherhood. Using qualitative longitudinal data, men's antenatal intentions and postnatal practices are explored in this study which replicates earlier research on motherhood. The contemporary context in the UK is one where paternity leave, discourses of caring masculinities and more public displays of fathering involvement appear to offer new possibilities for men. But data analysis shows that whilst opportunities to disrupt gender norms are initially imagined, longer term practices can confirm 'patriarchal habits'. The findings illuminate gender being done and undone, at times simultaneously, as the exhaustion and hard work of new parenting is encountered. A retreat into normative behaviours can be a path of least resistance as experiences unfold in an arena where men are found to have available to them a wider repertoire of discursive storylines. Optimistically, some changes in fathering involvement are discernible.

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