"Ambassadors of Involved Fatherhood": Exploring Online and Offline Discursive Practices in the North American Dad Blogger Community

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Casey SCHEIBLING, McMaster University, Canada
Over the past eight years, a growing number of men have created online parenting blogs where they write about their experiences of fatherhood. Known now as “dad bloggers,” this group has expanded into a cross-continent social network of fathers who interact regularly on the Internet and meet annually at a conference called the “Dad 2.0 Summit.” Despite increasing membership and media publicity, academic researchers have paid scant attention to dad bloggers. The purpose of this paper is to address this gap by closely examining the North American dad bloggers group. I am guided by questions about how and why this online community has developed. More specifically, I am interested in exploring and understanding the collective interests and intentions of these fathers. To do so, I am involved in an ongoing “virtual ethnography” (Hine 2000, 2015) and make use of three types of data – a sample of blog posts, field notes from annual conferences, and interviews with bloggers themselves. Based on a qualitative analysis, I highlight three discursive practices that speak to the shared goals of the group. First, dad bloggers wish to further establish and enlarge a supportive community of involved fathers. Second, they produce counter-discourses aimed at correcting misrepresentations of fatherhood in popular culture. Third, many use digital media to engage in social and political debates, particularly surrounding issues of gender, work, and family. In closing, I discuss how dad bloggers operate as a “tiny public” (Fine 2012) and the ways in which they are redefining aspects of fathering both on and offline.