Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- No Man's Land by Kathleen Gerson / Men, Work, and Family Edited by Jane C. Hood / Growing Up Male by B. Mark Schoenberg / and Others

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- No Man's Land by Kathleen Gerson / Men, Work, and Family Edited by Jane C. Hood / Growing Up Male by B. Mark Schoenberg / and Others

Article excerpt

No Man's Land: Men's Changing Commitments to Family and Work. Kathleen Gerson. New York: Basic. 1993. 355 pp. ISBN 0-465-06316-0. $25 cloth.

Men, Work, and Family. Jane C. Hood (Ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. 1993. 294 pp. Hardcover ISBN 0-8039-3890-X (cloth). $44 cloth, $19.95 paper.

American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era. E. Anthony Rotundo. New York: Basic. 1993. 364 pp. ISBN 0-465-01409-7. $25 cloth.

Growing Up Male: The Psychology of Masculinity. B. Mark Schoenberg. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey. 1993. 144 pp. ISBN 0-89789-3441. $49.95 cloth.

How Fathers Care for the Next Generation: A Four-Decade Study. John Snarey. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. 1993. 394 pp. ISBN 0-674-40940-X. $35 cloth.

Men, masculinity, and fathers are "hot" topics in the social sciences, as any casual perusal of academic (and popular) bookshelves will demonstrate. But it's not just the quantity of books that is striking. The emerging diversity, depth, and level of scholarship exemplify the intellectual growth of this important field of study. In this review, we discuss five new scholarly books that focus in part or fully on men in families, and highlight how scholarship has matured in this area. Yet, despite the maturation, there is room for further development. Thus, we also include our personal concerns with current scholarship and hopes for future work on men in families.

John Snarey's book, How Fathers Care for the Next Generation, is one of the finest examples of how studies of men in families have progressed. Snarey draws from a four-generation, four-decade study of men to assert that "good fathering ... really does matter. It matters over a long time, over a life time, and even over generations" (p. 356). Snarey, a developmental psychologist, firmly grounds his research on fathering in Erikson's theory of human development. This book is now the finest empirical test and the strongest support for Erikson's concept of generativity--caring for the next generation. With both rigorous quantitative methods and a number of in-depth, intergenerational case studies, Snarey documents that generative fathering significantly affects children's future well-being. Snarey found links between both sons' and daughters' educational and occupational mobility (the fathers in the sample were working-class men) and various measures of their fathers' involvement in their lives in early childhood and in adolescence. (Unfortunately, familial and relational outcome measures for adult children were unavailable in Snarey's study, thus limiting the scope of his work.) In addition, generative fathering also increased fathers' own well-being at midlife in terms of occupational success and marital happiness. Furthermore, more generative fathering behavior was related to fathers' psychosocial generativity beyond the family sphere at midlife, supporting Erikson's idea that parental experience is an important foundation for healthy development at midlife. The involved fathering that Snarey measured fits within the scope of traditional male parenting rather than the less gender-stereotyped parenting often called for today. Snarey's research should encourage more researchers to study men and fathering with developmental lenses in addition to the sociological lenses that have provided the focus for so long (Hawkins, 1993) . Both the intergenerational, longitudinal design of Snarey's study and the rich theoretical tools he used to frame his data are evidence of significant maturation in the study of men and fathers.

E. Anthony Rotundo's book, American Manhood, also shows how current scholarship is maturing. Rotundo, a social historian, gives us a vivid portrait of how our cultural conceptions of manhood and masculinity have evolved over the last 250 years. Together with Griswold's (1993) history of fatherhood in 19th-and 20th-century America, scholars now can place contemporary conversations on men, masculinity, and fathers within a well-documented historical context, a much needed and valuable achievement. …

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