Date of Award

12-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

Supervisor

D. Pawluch

Language

English

Abstract

This research project examines how men experience their partners' pregnancy. While the literature on fatherhood is large and varied, there is very little material on pregnancy and how it is experienced from the point of view of the prospective father. What literature does exist focuses on negative aspects of the experience and themes such as pathology, pregnancy envy, and the crises associated with becoming a father. Other literature is prescriptive, telling expectant fathers what women are going through during pregnancy and how they can be supportive. The literature is important and provides some insight into men's view of pregnancy and pending fatherhood. However, it provides a limited perspective on men's daily experiences and adjustments through the expectant fatherhood and pregnancy.

The study is framed within a symbolic interactionist perspective. Symbolic interactionism assumes that people individually and collectively develop meanings for objects, activities and events within their world (Blumer, 1969). People act on the basis of meanings that objects or events hold for them (Blumer, 1969). Through interaction and association with others, people note, interpret, and assess their life situations and then act accordingly (Blumer, 1969). Thus, symbolic interactionism as a theoretical and methodological approach places importance on the meanings that social actors construct and on the ongoing interactions and interpretive processes unfolding between individuals. The data for this research project came primarily from in-depth and unstructured interviews. Participants were recruited using snowball sampling.

The main story line of the thesis its about how men enter into a new status and the pregnancy event. In this regard, the anti1cipatory stage of men's involvement in the decision to start a pregnancy occurs through the desire to have a child and family. As the men become further involved they are mindful of their partners, family, and friends. Partners play a greater role as the men consider others, assess readiness, manage reservations, and make plans to conceive. The initial developments in men's lives demonstrate the active involvement of the men in the decision to have children and a family. The men are not passive recipients of a new status but begin the entrance by considering a number of aspects of their lives.

The second stage in men's status passage, becoming pregnant, deals with matters of confirmation, a key turning point in the status passage and entrance into pregnancy. As the men receive confirmation they experience a variety of emotional responses. The men begin to reorient their lives. They start to consider how to deal with the pregnancy. Further, the men become concerned with who they are and what it means to be a father. Informing family, friends, and others completes the turning point.

The third stage in the men's status passage is about coming to terms with the changes in their lives. Men manage the change by learning about the unknown aspects of their partners' pregnancy and expectant fatherhood. Engaging in learning activities, the men's conception of pregnancy and expectant fatherhood becomes more detailed and complex. Men accommodate the changes of pregnancy by providing support to their partners, curtailing activities, and participating in new activities such as prenatal appointments. In completing the passage, the men start to relate to the developing child through ongoing confirmations, by talking to the developing child, making preparations for the arrival of the infant, and experiencing birth. At birth the passage is complete and the men adjust their lives accordingly. The study addresses the gap in the literature and contributes to the limited understanding of men's lives throughout their partners' pregnancy and their own expectant fatherhood.

McMaster University Library

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