An ecological approach towards understanding father involvement and engagement within Luton's most disadvantaged areas
Subject Categories::L310 Applied Sociology
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AbstractFather involvement and engagement exists within a family, which exists within a societal context; it is therefore influenced and determined, to varying degrees, by a variety of ecological systems working in cohort, in a bio-psycho-social fashion. In light of this, while fathers can have a significantly beneficial role in the lives of their children, regarding healthy physical and psychological development, the evidence consistently indicates that father involvement and engagement is reduced comparative to socioeconomic deprivation. Despite this fact, very few studies have explored this association through the lens of marginalised fathers themselves, nor have they utilised the first hand perspectives of mothers and professionals towards better understanding how fathering is shaped and impacted within an economically deprived context. With higher levels of deprivation in Luton than the UK average, this study sought to explore this issue within Luton’s most disadvantaged areas. A mixed methods sequential design was employed. Drawing from the interviews of fifteen professionals, nine fathers and eleven mothers; the findings provide valuable insight into trajectories of father involvement and engagement relative to contextual circumstances, linked to internal and societal beliefs about fathering. The key emerging themes therefore support an ecological viewpoint of father involvement and engagement, demonstrating the fundamentally significant impact that family background, the father-mother relationship and professional inclusion can have on fathers. This is further supported by the associated patterns identified within the cross-sectional questionnaire, which show links between sociodemographic factors, beliefs about the father role, parent mental health and father involvement. For the fathers at the forefront of this study, there was a clear pattern related to disadvantage, putting them in greater need of support in a variety of areas. However, the findings also highlight that there is very little support in place, tailored to meet their needs. This study exemplifies that examining fathering from an ecological perspective enlightens our understanding of how and why we see reduced levels of involvement and engagement amongst disadvantaged fathers, providing a more complete picture of how factors associated with disadvantage can have a wider impact. In order to more forward and make positive, sustainable, changes to the lives of fathers, and families living in socially disadvantaged communities, researchers, family professionals and policy makers should recognise and work from an ecological perspective, integrated into practice and policy formation.
CitationDonald, L.E.J. (2020) 'An Ecological Approach Towards Understanding Father Involvement and Engagement within Luton's Most Disadvantaged Areas'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
Description“A thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy”.
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