Fatherhood in Educational Research & Theory: Looking back, looking forward. Sue Nichols The Field of Fatherhood: Crossings of the Terrain Mini-Conference University of south Australia June 19 th 2007. Outline. Post-WW2 trends Critical & constructivist directions
The Field of Fatherhood: Crossings of the Terrain Mini-Conference
University of south Australia
June 19th 2007
‘Over the years, negative effects of the father’s absence, especially for male children, were reported in such areas as:
‘A deficit based research paradigm provides limited information about the actual behaviour of fathers in families.’ (Pederson 1987)
Critical, meta-analytic discussion of the role of research in producing knowledge about fathers (eg Pedersen 1987).
Interactionist and phenomenological approaches concerned with ‘how family members construct negotiate, define, and sustain their family relationships and realities’ (McKee & O’Brien 1982 p. 7)
Historical research challenged the notion that ‘traditional’ fatherhood was either natural or of longstanding (eg Hardyment 1995)
Cultural studies and text analysis approaches looked at representations of fathers
In the large collection of the Library Council of Victoria … there is an enormous number of children’s fiction books about mother-child relationships – in nearly all, mothers play a supportive, even subsidiary role to other family members. On the other hand, only a handful  touch on the father-child relationships.
The father-child relationship tends to be one of conflict in children’s fiction. … Some made demands for achievement or strength that their children find hard to meet … Some are autocratic … Some are totally cold … Some are famous or clever, and make their children feel inadequate … and (the most common) some are weak, ill, or out of luck … (Harper 1980:163-4)
I encourage instead of mother handling this I encourage father to handle it because he’s starting to come into all the hormones are starting to rattle around and this is the time I feel when fathers have a stronger influence on their sons than their mothers. (Tutor)
Mike is very much now his own person and that’s for a number of reasons why he has come out of his shell there. (Teacher)
Well, he’s got something ah … yeah he definitely he’s got somethingbut I don’t I can’t put my finger on it what it is though. He’s very not organised, he’s sort of very disorganised in anything he does, he’s disorganised with a lot of things at school as well. If I remember the teacher told him, told us, that he was very disorganised with everything.
When we go to interviews they just show you all the work they do and it’s sort of rip rip through the pages. We go oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah then we go out. They stick in his good work so we look at that and think oh yeah he’s doing really well. … And then you find out after that he’s not doing well and I don’t understand the way they write them reports any rate. (Mother)