Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. G. Knight
Fathers' rights groups have been highly visible in Ontario in trying to maintain fatherhood identity after divorce through the exercise of their lobby for joint custody. The fathers' right movement is attempting to influence conceptions of fatherhood as they relate to child custody. This dissertation examine the functions of the fathers' rights movement at two levels -- the subjective and the social. At the subjective level the movement provides its members with a rhetoric that helps them to maintain or reconstruct their fatherhood identity postdivorce. At the social level, the movement provides both a way to translate personal troubles into a social issues -- the biased and gendered nature of child custody and child support laws and practical assistance to men going through the process of divorce. The focus of the these then is on the threats to men's identity as fathers that accompany marital breakdown and divorce, and on the reactions of fathers' rightists to these identity threats. This dissertation based on: eighteen month of participant observation; interviews with twenty-eight fathers, and four women from four fathers' rights groups about their reasons for joining the group, their conceptualization of fatherhood and their opinions on joint custody. The concept of "role fragmentation" was developed to describe this particular type of identity transformation process. What can be drawn from this data is that the fathers' rights members are attempting to maintain their pre-divorce fatherhood identity. In addition, an interesting and important result of this work was the emergent description of fatherhood.
Bertoia, Carl Edward, "Identities Under Siege: The Fathers' Rights Movement" (1996). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2269.