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The legal status, responsibilities and rights of men who are fathers - married or unmarried, cohabiting or separated, biological or social in nature - is a topic with a long and well-documented history. Yet recent developments in a number of countries suggest a growing politicisation of the relationship between law and fatherhood. In some countries, an increasingly vocal, visible and well-organised fathers' rights movement has been credited with influencing perceptions of the politics of family justice. Fathers, it is argued, have become the new victims of family law justice systems that have swung 'too far' in favour of mothers. Armed with such claims, fathers' rights activists have set out to achieve a range of legal reforms, most notably in the areas of child support law and contact and residence rights following separation.

This book presents an attempt to understand these developments. Bringing together leading international commentators it provides a careful, critical and comparative analysis of the work of fathers' rights activists, the role law has played in their campaigning, their legal strategies, their success (or otherwise) in achieving legal reform, similarities and divergences with the women's movement, and the relationship between fathers' rights movements and the societies that frame them.

In addition to Collier and Sheldon, contributors include: Susan B Boyd (University of British Columbia, Canada), Jocelyn Crowley (Rutgers University, USA), Maria Eriksson (Goteborg University, Sweden), Keith Pringle (Aalborg University, Denmark), Helen Rhoades (Melbourne University, Australia), and Carol Smart (Manchester University, UK).
Debates about the future of fatherhood have been central to a range of conversations about changing family forms, parenting and society. Law has served an important, yet often neglected, role in these discussions, serving as an important focal point for broader political frustrations, playing a central role in mediating disputes, and operating as a significant, symbolic, state-sanctioned account of the scope of paternal rights and responsibilities. Fragmenting Fatherhood provides the first sustained engagement with the way that fatherhood has been understood, constructed and regulated within English law. Drawing on a range of disparate legal provisions and material from diverse disciplines, it sketches the major contours of the figure of the father as drawn in law and social policy, tracing shifts in legal and broader understandings of what it means to be a 'father'and what rights and obligations should accrue to that status. In thematically linked chapters cutting across substantive areas of law, the book locates fatherhood as a key site of contestation within broader political debates regarding the family and gender equality. Multiple visions of fatherhood, evolving unevenly over time across diverse areas of law, emerge from this analysis. Fatherhood is revealed as an essentially fragmented status and one which is intertwined in complex ways with the legal, cultural and political contexts in which discourses of parenthood are produced.

Fragmenting Fatherhood provides an important and unique resource, speaking to debates about fatherhood across a range of fields including law and legal theory, sociology, gender studies, social policy, marriage and the family, women's studies and gender studies.
What does it mean to speak of ‘men’ as a gender category in relation to law? How does law relate to masculinities? This book presents the first comprehensive overview and critical assessment of the relationship between men, law and gender; outlining the contours of the ‘man’ of law across diverse areas of legal and social policy. Written in a theoretically informed, yet accessible style, Men, Law and Gender provides an introduction to the study of law and masculinities whilst calling for a richer, more nuanced conceptual framework in which men’s legal practices and subjectivities might be approached. Building on recent sociological work concerned with the relational nature of gender and personal life, Richard Collier argues that social, cultural and economic changes have reshaped ideas about men and masculinities in ways that have significant implications for law. Bringing together voices and disciplines that are rarely considered together, he explores the way ideas about men have been contested and politicised in the legal arena. Including original empirical studies of male lawyers, the legal profession and fathers’ rights and law reform, alongside discussions of university law schools and legal academics, and family policy and parenting cultures, this innovative, timely and important text provides a unique and important insight into the relationship between law, men and masculinities. It will be required reading for academics and students in law and legal theory, socio-legal studies, gender studies, sociology and social policy, as well as policy-makers and others concerned with the changing nature of gender relations.
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