Increasing cultural and academic attention is being paid to fathers who assume the primary caregiving role, stemming from interest into whether contemporary masculinity is evolving away from traditional, hegemonic ideals. This study utilises a Discourse Analysis informed by Membership Categorisation Analysis to explore how this relatively new category – primary caregiving father – is discursively constructed in 193 Australian newsprint media articles. The analysis identified that the category of ‘primary caregiving father’ was defended and discursively managed so as to remain consistent with the activities and predicates typically associated with the category ‘normative man’. This was routinely achieved in two ways. First, descriptions of traditional uninvolved fathers were contrasted unfavourably against the ‘new’ primary caregiving father, working to position primary caregiving fathers as the new norm. Second, accounts of men’s decision to take on the primary caregiving role routinely relied on the category-tied predicates of rationality and stoicism, thereby working to position primary caregiving fathers as normatively masculine. Overall, this article concludes that, despite fathers taking on roles inconsistent with normative gendered categorisation, constructions of fatherhood in news media routinely work to align (or re-align) primary caregiving fathers within hegemonic ideals. Therefore, while masculinity is evolving and shifting, it remains within the bounds of what is considered hegemonic.
- Caring masculinity
- discourse analysis
- hegemonic masculinity
- membership categorisation analysis
- primary caregiving fathers