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Package Deal: Marriage, Work And Fatherhood In Men'S Lives

Nicholas Townsend

Publication Year: 2002

In this important new work, Nicholas Townsend explores what men say about being fathers, and about what fatherhood means to them. He shows how men negotiate the prevailing cultural values about fatherhood, marriage, employment, and home ownership that he conceptualizes as a "package deal." Townsend identifies the conflicts and contradictions within the gendered expectations of men and fathers, and analyzes the social and economic contexts that make emotionally involved fathering an elusive ideal.Drawing on the lives and life stories of a group of men in their late forties who graduated from high school together in the early 1970s, The Package Deal demystifies culture's image of fatherhood in the United States. These men are depicted as neither villains nor victims, but as making their best efforts to achieve successful adult masculinity. This book shows what fathers really think about fatherhood, the division of labor between fathers and mothers, the gendered difference in expectations, and the privileging of the relationship between fathers and sons.These revealing accounts of how fatherhood fits into the rest of men's lives help us better understand what men can and cannot do as fathers. And they clearly illustrate that women are not alone in trying to "have it all" as they strive to combine work and family.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

"The research and writing of this book have occupied much of my attention and have become entwined with my entire life. Although separating individuals and influences for thanks is inevitably selective, it is a pleasure for me to recall the many people who have helped me with this book, to thank them, and to assure both them and my readers but without their generosity and openness this book would not exist. I..."

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1. Contradictions and Complications

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pp. 1-29

"We hear a great deal about fathers. Dead-beat fathers, absent fathers, distant fathers, participant fathers, new fathers, and changing fathers feature in academic and popular discussions. The impact of fathers on children, their influence for good or bad, their central importance, or their insignificance are investigated, assumed, argued over,..."

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2. Package Deals and Scripts

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pp. 30-49

"I just always kind of imagined myself grown up, being married, having two kids. Ever since I can remember. I never thought I wouldn’t want kids. Never even gave that consideration, that I would just be married and not have kids, it was just all part of the package."

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3. The Four Facets of Fatherhood

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pp. 50-80

"Especially in this area, it’s a lifestyle not to have children. A lot of people don’t. They’ll be old and gray and I’ll have my children around Christmas day. I don’t determine success in life as financial or monetary or anything like that. My success in life is when my kids leave and go out and make their own lives; they’ll come back and..."

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4. Marriage: The Women in the Middle

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pp. 81-116

"When we had them, it was always very important for my wife to stay home with the kids. I see a lot of people at work that their wife gets pregnant, has a baby, and two months later they’re back at work. And they never see their kids. They don’t see them walk or crawl or anything like that. And that was always real important for me that my..."

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5. Employment as Fatherhood

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pp. 117-137

"Everybody has a purpose in life. It’s the same basic, mundane thing: You get up, you go to work, you come home. Your purpose is to provide for your family. Obviously, when you have children, you have more of an incentive for that, to get up and go to work."

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6. Home Ownership: Housing the Family

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pp. 138-163

"Home ownership has helped my wife and my family and I understand the meaning of family and commitment. It is a unifying event in a person’s life. Marriages and families cannot survive without it. They may get by without a house, but they never get the most out ofthe loving bonds a family can find."

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7. Fathers of Fathers: Kinship and Gender

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pp. 164-192

"The men I talked to tried to achieve the package deal by assmbling the elements of marriage, fatherhood, employment, and home ownership. They talked about success in achieving the package deal as an accomplishment for which they could take credit as individuals or as part of an autonomous married couple. I have, as a counterweight to their individualist ethos, stressed the importance of social situation and..."

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8. Implications

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pp. 193-204

The importance of fathers for children has been both minimized (Stephenson 1991) and exaggerated (Blankenhorn 1995; Popenoe 1999). Research reveals a more nuanced picture (Amato 1998; Belsky 1998; Furstenberg 1998; Harris, Furstenberg, and Marmer 1998; Mar-siglio et al. 2000), but the debate over the importance or irrelevance of fathers will not be decided by research, no matter how careful and..."

Appendix 1

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pp. 205-210

Appendix 2

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pp. 211-214


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pp. 215-222


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pp. 223-240


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pp. 241-248

E-ISBN-13: 9781439906194

Publication Year: 2002