Father figures and cultural diversity in France

BERTON Fabienne, BUREAU Marie-Christine, RIST Barbara. Men and masculinities [en ligne], 2017

Who are the father figures or cultural role models for paternal involvement in France today? In this article, we examine changes in the cultural models of father involvement or father figures from a framework of family sociology and in light of the move from male breadwinner models to dual earner families. First, we note the persistence of a neopatriarchal father figure in some specific groups of society, in particular large families who practice their religion actively. However, this father figure is declining under the pressures of mass unemployment, a rise in female employment activity, and an increase in marital separations. At the same time, sociologists highlight the increase in preoccupation with the concept of failing fathers. There is normative alarm about failing fatherhood among early childhood professionals interviewed for this study. Alternatively, we see the emergence of a new range of father involvement figures: especially among the intellectual middle classes and among some immigrants, where tasks are shared equally and with little gender differentiation within the home; one where fathers shake up or even overturn gender roles, whether in a gay or heterosexual couples, one where stepfathers are committed fully to their educational role. Our study shows that these three phenomena of neopatriarchal fathers, failing fathers, and new fathers exist side by side and reflect three eras of male/female relationships in French public policies: familialism, feminism, and parentalism.

Lire la suite : 10.1177/1097184X17727799

Fabienne BERTON, Marie-Christine BUREAU et Barbara RIST sont membre du laboratoire LISE (Cnam-CNRS).