Foster fathers performing gender: The negotiation and reproduction of parenting roles in families who foster.

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Foster care research and social work practice tend to focus on how women look after children living in foster care. This focus has limited our understanding of what it is that men do within foster caring families and they are automatically assigned secondary or breadwinning roles. Families who foster involve some form of renegotiation of roles to care for children they foster. While foster caring arrangements are internationally diverse, foster carers often work with social workers. It would therefore seem important for social workers to understand how foster carers negotiate their parenting roles. This paper reports findings from seven main caring foster fathers who took part in a wider study involving twenty-three foster fathers. The evidence provided by these foster fathers demonstrate they are highly motivated to care for children and, alongside delivering traditional parenting roles, they negotiate new, non-traditional parenting roles as foster fathers. These new roles, taken on by foster fathers, often challenge stereotyped masculinity while they also concurrently enact parenting norms. This study applied Judith Butler’s work on performing gender to foster caring families to theorise on the process whereby foster fathers negotiate diverse masculinities and continue to reproduce gendered relations in foster caring families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-368
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family Social Work
Issue number4-5
Early online date6 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2020


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