Is Anything New in Contemporary Fatherhood?: A View from Europe on Policy, Practice and Discourse.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Tina MILLER, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
Esther DERMOTT, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
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 presentation we explore whether there is anything new about fatherhood through three interlinked areas. These are; what counts as change? Where should we look for change? What are the levers of change? Through this focus and a consideration of European fatherhood research, we document key findings, assess their significance and most importantly assess 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.