This article is a critical examination of the stay-at-home dad (SAHD) as a concept and set of practices in Canada and the United States (U.S.). It is informed by a feminist relational approach to practices of work and care, a genealogical approach to concepts, and by case study material from a 14-year qualitative and longitudinal research program on stay-at-home fathers and breadwinning mothers primarily in Canada, but more recently in both Canada and the U.S. I take up three theoretical and conceptual issues. First, I explicate the concepts of work, care, and choice that underpin the SAHD concept and I explore how these are taken up in government reporting and some research studies in Canada and the U.S. Second, drawing from my longitudinal research on stay-at-home fathers, I apply feminist and relational theoretical approaches to work, care, and choice and argue that this approach leads to specific theoretical and methodological implications for the study of SAHDs. Finally, I attempt to answer the question: Is the SAHD a feminist concept? I argue that while studies on SAHDs can offer important glimpses into possibilities of egalitarian family relationships and are fruitful sites for feminist analyses of family relationships, the SAHD concept is located in a conceptual net that includes binaries of work and care and individualized conceptions of choice. I thus question the utility of the SAHD as a feminist concept since the binaries that inform it have long been contested by feminist scholars.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 1, 2016
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