The Impact of Social Change on Fatherhood

By Richard D. Christy.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In traditional societies, social institutions and social roles were relatively fixed and stable. In advanced and post-modern societies, social institutions and social roles are open to change. Today there seem to be opportunities for individuals to participate in every social sector. Women are increasingly entering the ‘market place’ and men entering the ‘family place’. In this paper, I explore the historic and the emerging social roles of men as fathers. In his book Finding Our Fathers Osherson writes that ‘feminists have argued that men have something to learn from woman, having to do with the capacity for greater intimacy, empathy, and a more caring and interdependent approach of life’ (Osherson, 1986). Does this imply that men are unable or unwilling to connect with their children on an intimate level? Keen argues that the importance of fathering can not be underestimated in that ‘many men have become aware of the wound they suffer from the absence of their fathers and the vacuum they feel in not being initiated into manhood’ (Keen, 1991). Payne elaborates in Crisis in Masculinity that when fathering is absent there is ‘a deprivation of father-love, father-touch, and father-communication’ (Payne, 1978). According to Statistics Canada, in 2006, there are over 4.2 million fathers, and 280,000 one-parent families are headed by men. How involved is a man in the life of his child? Will Canadians increasingly assume that ‘father involvement has enormous implications for their children in terms of social, emotional and cognitive development’ (Doucet, 2007). Are the norms and roles for fathers changing in postmodern society?

Keywords: Social Roles, Family Place, Post-modern Society, Fatherhood, Social Script, Nuturance

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 604.522KB).

Dr. Richard D. Christy

Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Richard Christy introduced the Sociology of Men and Masculinities to the undergraduate curriculum at Wilfrid Laurier University as a seminar course in 1992. Enrollment is limited to 25 students and it takes one minute with on-line registration to fill the course with a waiting list. Dr Christy has presented papers at international conferences on the crisis of masculinity, social theory and gender, and changing social roles of men in post-modernity. His research and teaching also includes classical social theory and the sociology of education.


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