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Fragmenting Fatherhood

A Socio-Legal Study

By: Richard Collier, Sally Sheldon
Media of Fragmenting Fatherhood
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Published: 05-09-2008
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 324
ISBN: 9781841134178
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £43.99
Online price : £39.59
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About Fragmenting Fatherhood

Debates about the future of fatherhood have been central to a range of conversations about changing family forms, parenting and society. Law has served an important, yet often neglected, role in these discussions, serving as an important focal point for broader political frustrations, playing a central role in mediating disputes, and operating as a significant, symbolic, state-sanctioned account of the scope of paternal rights and responsibilities. Fragmenting Fatherhood provides the first sustained engagement with the way that fatherhood has been understood, constructed and regulated within English law. Drawing on a range of disparate legal provisions and material from diverse disciplines, it sketches the major contours of the figure of the father as drawn in law and social policy, tracing shifts in legal and broader understandings of what it means to be a 'father'and what rights and obligations should accrue to that status. In thematically linked chapters cutting across substantive areas of law, the book locates fatherhood as a key site of contestation within broader political debates regarding the family and gender equality. Multiple visions of fatherhood, evolving unevenly over time across diverse areas of law, emerge from this analysis. Fatherhood is revealed as an essentially fragmented status and one which is intertwined in complex ways with the legal, cultural and political contexts in which discourses of parenthood are produced.

Fragmenting Fatherhood provides an important and unique resource, speaking to debates about fatherhood across a range of fields including law and legal theory, sociology, gender studies, social policy, marriage and the family, women's studies and gender studies.

Table Of Contents

1. Introducing Fatherhood and Law
2. Fatherhood and 'Natural' Reproduction
3. Fatherhood and Assisted Reproduction
4. Marital Fatherhood
5. Post-Separation Fatherhood
6. Unmarried Fatherhood
7. Fragmenting Fatherhood


“...a remarkable read: heavy on ideas, light on jargon, and covering the entire range of the daddy debate.” –  Jennie Bristow, Times Online - Alpha Mummy

“...their approach is interdisciplinary, drawing from sociology, politics, psychology, history and social policy in an impressive and erudite engagement with a subject of great interest and controversy...a range of ideas has emerged about the importance of social responsibility on the part of parents. The law sets out normative expectations about how they should be discharged. These ideas are also evident across social policy, and it is a strength of the authors' interdisciplinary emphasis that they capture this with their analysis of new Labour's policies across a range of domains (for example, they note the focus in services such as Sure Start on "engaging fathers")...The authors have combined their considerable intellectual expertise to produce a comprehensive book that will be of great value to scholars in a range of disciplines. They deal thoughtfully with a subject that arouses anxiety and controversy and where the research evidence is hotly contested.” –  Brid Featherstone, Times Higher Education

“The style is academic, but worded for the concerned reader. The book is recommended reading for trustees of societies
and charities concerned with the effects of family breakdown and parent-child relationships.
” –  Reg George, McKenzie Magazine Issue 82

“...superb analysis of the changing conventions surrounding using material from across academic disciplines and with reference to important contemporary debates that are playing out through policy developments and media discussions, the book should gain much wider appeal.” –  Jennie Bristow, Spiked Review of Books Issue No 21

“Richard Collier and Sally Sheldon... are to be congratulated.
... the main chapters contain many useful, thought-provoking ideas to illuminate the authors' central thesis of the rapidly evolving social institutions of modern fatherhood and its implications for family law.
” –  Mervyn Murch Cardiff Law School, Cardiff University, Journal of Law and Society Volume 36 No. 3

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