‘You can spend time. . . but not necessarily be bonding with them’: Australian fathers’ constructions and enactments of infant bonding

Brady, Michelle, Stevens, Emily, Coles, Laetitia, Zadoroznyj, Maria and Martin, Bill (2016) ‘You can spend time. . . but not necessarily be bonding with them’: Australian fathers’ constructions and enactments of infant bonding. Journal of Social Policy, 1-22. doi:10.1017/S0047279416000374


Author Brady, Michelle
Stevens, Emily
Coles, Laetitia
Zadoroznyj, Maria
Martin, Bill
Title ‘You can spend time. . . but not necessarily be bonding with them’: Australian fathers’ constructions and enactments of infant bonding
Journal name Journal of Social Policy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0047-2794
1469-7823
Publication date 2016-07-14
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1017/S0047279416000374
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Start page 1
End page 22
Total pages 22
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Abstract Governments are increasingly implementing policies that encourage early father-infant bonding. However, to date, research has not systematically examined fathers’ perspectives and experiences of early bonding. Using a social constructionist embodiment perspective we argue that paternal bonding is best conceived as a process of repeated, embodied performances that are shaped by gendered parenting discourses. Drawing on 100 semi-structured interviews with a diverse group of Australian fathers of young infants, we argue that most men believe they are capable of developing early strong bonds. They assume that bonding is a product of spending sufficient time with a child, irrespective of the parent's gender. In contrast, a sizable minority of fathers assert that physiology means fathers are ‘largely useless’ to very young infants, and tend to remain distant in the early months. We conclude that social policies promoting early paternal bonding must engage with and challenge gendered/physiological discourses.
Keyword Fathering
Fatherhood
Involved fathering
Paternal bonding
Infants
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
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Created: Tue, 26 Jul 2016, 08:55:12 EST by Michelle Brady on behalf of School of Social Science