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Separated Parents Reproducing and Undoing Gender Through Defining Legitimate Uses of Child Support


Natalier, K and Hewitt, B, Separated Parents Reproducing and Undoing Gender Through Defining Legitimate Uses of Child Support, Gender and Society, 28, (6) pp. 904-925. ISSN 0891-2432 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1177/0891243214546933


The use of child support is a politically and personally contested issue and a policy challenge across developed countries. This offers an opportunity to identify family practices and relationships through which hegemonic masculinity and socially valued femininities are reproduced and challenged. We present data from interviews with 28 fathers and 30 mothers to argue that when people discuss how child support is or should be spent, they are managing gendered parenting identities. Most fathers defined child support as "special money." This position buttresses the hegemonic masculine characteristics of authority and breadwinning, discursively de-genders the care of children, and challenges mothersí conformity to feminine and good mothering ideals. A minority of fathers presented an alternative definition of child support and fathering that underplayed the relevance of money and values mothersí and fathersí care and financial contributions. Mothersí accounts of using child support emphasized their financial authority and child-centered consumption in ways that both challenge and reproduce socially valued femininity. We conclude that definitions of how child support should be used reproduce relationships of dominance and subordination that constitute the gender order.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Hegemonic masculinity; femininities; fathering; mothering; child support
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Other culture and society
Objective Field:Other culture and society not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Natalier, K (Dr Kristin Natalier)
ID Code:97284
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2014-12-10
Last Modified:2015-05-06

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