Fatherhood: Contemporary Theory, Research, and Social Policy

By Palkovitz, Rob | Family Relations, July 1996 | Go to article overview

Fatherhood: Contemporary Theory, Research, and Social Policy


Palkovitz, Rob, Family Relations


Marsiglio, W. (Ed.). (1995). Fatherhood: Contemporary Theory, Research, and Social Policy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 320 pp. Paper ISBN 0-8039-5783-1, price $24.00.

True to its title, William Marsiglio's edited volume on fatherhood presents a useful collection of 13 chapters covering empirical, theoretical, and practical aspects of fathering in contemporary American society. The unifying theme in each chapter is a consideration of the effects of changing social, cultural, and demographic patterns on emerging views of fatherhood. Eight of the 13 chapters represent works previously published in recent (December, 1993 and March, 1994) special issues of the Journal of Family Issues. The remaining five chapters are newly published works that add depth and breadth of coverage to the volume.

Although only 38% of the volume represents new material, the total collection is useful, and the five new chapters make enough of a contribution to the literature to make the purchase worthwhile. These five chapters include: Marsiglio's thinking on the implications of diversity in fathers' life course patterns and roles from both theoretical and intervention perspectives; Furstenberg's intriguing interview study that is focused on the status and meaning of fatherhood in the inner city; Mosley and Thompson's analyses of data from the National Survey of Families and Households with an emphasis on fathering behavior and child outcomes; Grief and DeMaris' longitudinal follow-up of single fathers with custody; and Coltrane's analysis of demographic, economic, and social trends and their effects on the future of fatherhood. When added to the previously published chapters, the net result is a depth and breadth of coverage that spans a variety of fathering situations, provides empirical and theoretical diversity, and offers a focus on interventions and social policy implications.

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