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Durham e-Theses
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Fathers Who Foster: Exploring Gendered Narratives from Foster-Fathers

HESLOP, PHILIP,ANDREW (2014) Fathers Who Foster: Exploring Gendered Narratives from Foster-Fathers. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis reports the findings of an in-depth narrative study, involving 23 foster-fathers from within an independent foster care agency. The foster care of ‘looked after’ children in Britain has undergone considerable organisational change over the last few decades. This change to fostering has coincided with feminist and sociological discourses that have developed our understanding of family and gender relations. However, as research and practice have tended to focus on how women look after fostered children, these new ways of looking at gender roles and family relations have not been applied to families who foster. This focus on women as foster carers preserves traditionally gendered roles where women are seen as homemakers. Therefore, there is little understanding of what it is that men do within fostering families and men are routinely assigned a secondary role, as support carer or breadwinner, to a woman main carer. This study aims to add to the understanding of foster care by using feminist concepts around intersectionality and performativity to reappraise the literature and reflect on foster-fathers’ experiences as they see them. Data were gathered through mixed methods involving foster-father interviews and observational diaries alongside gathering data from 70 social worker questionnaires. While men in the study performed traditionally masculine roles, many were also seen to take on roles normally performed by women. The study highlights the complexity of foster-fathering because men were seen to perform roles and tasks that are not currently attributed to them. This complexity is often overlooked in both research and social work practice. The findings from this study show men developing caring alone in isolation from social workers. Furthermore, the findings suggest social workers could better support men and women negotiate roles within fostering that extend beyond performing gender which reproduce existing male breadwinner and female homemaking roles.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:foster-fathers,foster care,social work, performativity, performing gender
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Jan 2015 16:10

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