Ideological dilemmas in accounts of primary caregiving fathers in Australian news media

Sarah Hunter, Martha Augoustinos, Damien Riggs

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Norms and expectations regarding fathers are changing, with fathers now expected to be more involved in caregiving. One consequence of this is an increase in fathers who assume the primary caregiving role. The study reported in this paper involved a discourse analysis of 176 Australian newspaper articles that focused on primary caregiving fathers. Three recurring interpretative repertoires pertaining to primary caregiving fathers were identified, suggesting contradictory and dilemmatic accounts of this role. These were: (1) advocating for primary caregiving fathers, (2) comparing the past and present, and (3) barriers to father involvement. Overall, when describing the “typical” father who provides primary care, the articles promoted the evolving cultural ideal of fathers as involved and nurturing caregivers, however they nonetheless justified continued gendered inequalities in parenting. Therefore, despite claims that new models of fathering are encouraged and promoted in western cultures, the analysis demonstrates that media accounts construct and reproduce hegemonic masculinity. The paper concludes by suggesting that a more critical lens should be applied to claims of support for greater father involvement, as despite structural and social support in favour of involved fathering, this support is comprised of contradictory elements that simultaneously undermine this emerging ideal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)116-123
    Number of pages8
    JournalDiscourse, Context and Media
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


    • Contemporary fathering
    • Hegemonic masculinity
    • Ideological dilemmas
    • Involved fathering
    • Primary caregiving fathers


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