Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Men in Families: When Do They Get Involved? What Difference Does It Make?

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Men in Families: When Do They Get Involved? What Difference Does It Make?

Article excerpt

Men in Families: When Do They Get Involved? What Difference Does It Make? Alan Booth & Ann C. Crouter (Eds.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 1998. 346 pp. ISBN 0-8058-2539-8. $89.95 cloth.

This useful volume on men as spouses and fathers pulls together an eclectic set of authors. There are four main papers, enriched by commentaries on each and an overview, based on a 1996 conference. The main papers were written by an historian (Steven Mintz), evolutionary anthropologists (Hillard Kaplan, Jane Lancaster, and Kermyt Anderson), a family therapist and researcher (John Gottman), and a sociologist (Paul Amato). Several of the commentators also provide research results of their own.

The focus is valuable. The new trickle of studies of men in families has a long way to go toward matching the volume of research on women in families or of men and women outside families. Any examination of this near-empty box in the 2 x 2 table of gender and family-nonfamily research is illuminating. Mintz argues that we should not only consider changes that took men and then women away from the home and to the workplace, but we should also study the intensification of the motherchild relationship that has made it more difficult for men to get custody of their children but easier for them to leave them.

Mintz's insistence on consideration of fine detail-of differences between generations in New England and with the southern coastal colonial economies-provides a sharp contrast to the abstract presentation of Kaplan et al. They draw from evolutionary biology, research on hunters and gatherers, and classical economic models of investment to derive a theory of change and variation in men's fertility-related behavior, which they test on New Mexican men. …

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