The impact of employment on fatherhood across family generations in white British, Polish and Irish origin families

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2013


This paper draws on data from an intergenerational study of fatherhood to consider how fatherhood has changed and how employment conditions and occupational status shape fatherhood, particularly their involvement with their children and, via an analysis of four cases, continuities and discontinuities are identified across the family generations. The study involved three generational chains of men which included grandfathers, sons and grandsons from three ‘ethnicities’; those of white British origin, Polish origin and Irish origin. While most agreed that fatherhood had changed, in particular the way fathers communicate and express affection to their children, other changes were also seen as important – increased material consumption, changes in children's lives and child-focused parenting. On the other hand, employment commitment and working conditions continue to constrain men's involvement with their children in both generations. A different pattern was also evident among a minority of the fathers who modified their employment to take on some childcare responsibilities, while a handful in low-status jobs had wives who were the main earners in the household, a situation that enabled them to take on a significant role in childcare.

Published in

Community, Work & Family

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 16 , p.372 -389






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