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A study of stepfathering : involvement and meaning making in contemporary stepfamilies

Burn, Keith (2008) A study of stepfathering : involvement and meaning making in contemporary stepfamilies. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

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Stepfamilies are complex and diverse. Until recently there has been little research that has explored stepfathers' perspectives concerning their involvement in stepfamilies. A number of fatherhood researchers have suggested similarities between stepfathers and biological fathers in the provision of nurture and care for stepchildren. This exploratory study was designed to develop knowledge and understanding of stepfathers' involvement in the care of stepchildren, from their own perspectives. In-depth interviews were carried out with thirty-five stepfathers. The aim was to identify what being a stepfather means to men, by examining the ways in which they make commitments to, take responsibilities for, and are sensitive to their stepchildren. Stepfathers' involvement in stepfamilies, in terms of their care for and about stepchildren, was examined across a range of activities in different types of stepfamilies. The study also examined the resources stepfathers drew upon in their stepfathering and the constraints they faced, and how the men shaped their own identities in stepfamilies. The findings suggest three models of stepfathering. The first group expressed the least clarity about their roles, had little involvement in stepfamilies. The second group demonstrated a traditionally masculinist approach to parenting. They were 'moderately involved' in stepfamilies, with clearly defined roles for mothers, stepfathers, and non-resident fathers. Men in the third group demonstrated a pluralistic imagery of family life, a less gendered interpretation of fathering, and a more equitably gendered pattern of couple relations. They were actively involved in sharing the care for stepchildren with the children's mothers and non-resident fathers. They made commitments, negotiated responsibilities, were sensitive to stepchildren's needs, and had made changes to their traditional work-oriented, primary-earner role, in order to do more care for the next generation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis: (PhD) University of London Institute of Education, 2007.
Depositing User: Batch Import
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2011 10:27
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2015 14:00
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