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Fatherhood and immigration: challenging the deficit theory

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Most immigration studies focus on the negative consequences of immigration for families and for parenting. Immigration is also viewed as a factor that undermines fathers’ capacity to implement their fathering roles. The impact of immigration on fathers has received very little attention. This paper is based on 54 interviews with immigrant fathers to Canada and Israel. Based on qualitative data, the paper investigates immigrant fathers’ perceptions of fatherhood in the midst of cultural change. This paper challenges the widely held notion that immigration itself is a risk factor for fatherhood. It focuses rather on the systemic barriers and obstacles facing immigrant fathers in their new country and the positive opportunities this change presents. Implications for intervention and policies concerning immigrant families are discussed.

Keywords: cultural transition; family; fatherhood; immigration; parental roles; risk

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, and Researcher, National Center for Fathers and Families, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA; 2: Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Research & Partnerships), Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; 3: Dean of Health and Community Care, Bow Valley College, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and 4: Chair, Department of Child and Youth Studies, Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Publication date: November 1, 2005


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