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Defiant Dads: Fathers' Rights Activists in America (Hardback)
  • Defiant Dads: Fathers' Rights Activists in America (Hardback)

Defiant Dads: Fathers' Rights Activists in America (Hardback)

Hardback 320 Pages / Published: 30/09/2008
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All across America, angry fathers are demanding rights. These men claim that since the breakdown of their own families, they have been deprived of access to their children. Joining together to form fathers' rights groups, the mostly white, middle-class men meet in small venues to speak their minds about the state of the American family and, more specifically, to talk about the problems they personally face, for which they blame current child support and child custody policies. Dissatisfied with these systems, fathers' rights groups advocate on behalf of legal reforms that will lower their child support payments and help them obtain automatic joint custody of their children.

In Defiant Dads, Jocelyn Elise Crowley offers a balanced examination of these groups in order to understand why they object to the current child support and child custody systems; what their political agenda, if enacted, would mean for their members' children or children's mothers; and how well they deal with their members' interpersonal issues concerning their ex-partners and their role as parents. Based on interviews with more than 150 fathers' rights group leaders and members, as well as close observation of group meetings and analysis of their rhetoric and advocacy literature, this important book is the first extensive, in-depth account of the emergence of fathers' rights groups in the United States. A nuanced and timely look at an emerging social movement, Defiant Dads is a revealing investigation into the changing dynamics of both the American family and gender relations in American society.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801446900
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 595 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 29 mm


"Crowley has written a thorough, evenhanded account of the fathers' rights movement in the United States. To her credit, she conducted in-depth interviews with participants in these groups and observed them in action, as well as reviewed research studies. After reciting the history of such groups, the author analyzes their structure from a sociological perspective. In succeeding chapters, discussing child support laws, custody rules, and post-divorce family dynamics, she marshals statistics and anecdotes to address points made by fathers' rights advocates. While critical of the groups' political goals, which call for less state involvement in custody and child support, she defends their personal goal of more involvement by fathers with their children."

-- Library Journal, Febraury 2009

"Crowley has written an important, theoretically rich book that empirically examines the fathers' rights movement and engages a wide range of scholarship, including scholarship on family law and policy, feminism, social movements, and ideology and public policy. In examining the movement, she finds important positive aspects, such as its emphasis on responsible fatherhood, but she also notes the pervasive antifeminist and neoconservative-influenced antistatism of the movement. These are barriers to the movement's growth and effectiveness. Crowley importantly notes the problems with completely neutral approaches to issues of equality, particularly in the context of the movement's call for 50-50 arrangements in child custody and child support. This, of course, ignores the difficulties and burdens that mothers still face in the workforce, especially with continued child care expectations and employment discrimination. As a result, Crowley is rightly skeptical of the policy agenda of the movement for ignoring these continuing realities. Also interesting is the insight that the movement is still a genuine grassroots movement, having avoided the professionalization and elite dominance common to so many contemporary social movements. Summing Up: Highly recommended."

* Choice *

"Defiant Dads contributes important new perspectives to the lively body of scholarship seeking to understand the gendering of politics; much of this work focuses on states' potential 'woman-friendliness,' while Crowley explores the strong antistate orientation of fathers' rights groups, grounded in tensions between these men's gendered understandings and the interventions of judges, child support officials, and legislatures in families."

-- Ann Shola Orloff, Northwestern University

"In Defiant Dads, Jocelyn Elise Crowley addresses an important and controversial set of questions about modern divorce parenthood and a key political movement related to family law. In offering an empirical study of the fathers' rights movement, Crowley makes a significant and original contribution. No other such works exist in the United States or elsewhere in terms of the numbers of groups, leaders, and members interviewed and studied."

-- Susan B. Boyd, University of British Columbia

"With the stroke of a pen granting divorce or custody, thousands of doting daddies turn into furious fathers who feel aggrieved by a process that deprives them of the kind of access to their children to which they feel entitled. Jocelyn Elise Crowley's strength as a researcher is that she gets inside these grievances. Her gift as a writer is that she explains these fathers' positions with neither caustic dismissal nor pandering acquiescence. A landmark study!"

-- Michael Kimmel, Stony Brook University, author of Manhood in America

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