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Exploring masculinities within men's identificatory imaginings of first-time fatherhood


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Karen Henwood, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3WT, UK (e-mail:


The changing role and practices of men as fathers is a growing subject of interest and debate within academic and everyday responses to contemporary sociocultural change. Prompted by questions about the production of identities and masculinities that accompanies social change, this paper is a psychosocial exploration of the identificatory positionings that are apparent in men's talk of becoming first-time fathers. Our qualitative analysis draws on a sample of 30 heterosexual and variously skilled men aged between 18 and 40 years in Norfolk (UK) who were interviewed as first-time fathers just before and after the birth of their child. We explore aspects of men's identifications within inter-generationally located biographies and associated social and relational contexts, specifically attending to ways in which men can make sense of a ‘new’ style of fatherhood, themselves and their masculinities in terms of being modern and traditional fathers. In adopting a psychosocial approach we are primarily concerned for ways in which the identificatory positions available to first-time fathers are conditional on a complex assemblage of dynamic mediations that are at once social, discursive and psychological.