The Myth of the Fatherless Society

I am delighted to announce that Dr Mike Ward (Swansea University) and I have had a short article published in The Conversation. ‘The Myth of the Fatherless Society‘ draws on our previous and ongoing research (Beyond Male Role Models; grandfatherhood; and Men, Poverty and Lifetimes of Care) to critique the ‘crisis of fatherlessness’ narrative that has recently re-emerged again in the language used by policy makers to explain the problems facing young people, including boys in particular. We argue several things in the article:

  • That the focus of this narrative is over-simplistic in its focus on fathers and gender,
  • That fears about family breakdown are overblown,
  • That it has a tendency to stigmatise working-class men and families in particular,
  • Is based on lazy discourses like ‘feckless’ and ‘absence’, that do not take account of contexts of poverty and disadvantage,
  • Ignores modern family structures and forms, as well as fathering across households and within,
  • Focuses too simplistically on gender, while research demonstrates that role models don’t have to be men to support young people successfully.