The experiences and emotion work of fathers in a neonatal unit

Hugill, Kevin (2009) The experiences and emotion work of fathers in a neonatal unit. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

[thumbnail of Thesis document] PDF (Thesis document) - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.



The experiences of fathers in a neonatal unit are poorly understood. The research upon which this thesis is based sought to address some of the gaps in the existing neonatal nursing understanding of fathers' experiences. In this thesis, I adopt a critical-subtle realist viewpoint using an auto/biographical ethnographic research perspective utilising mixed-methods of data
I apply ideas about emotion management and specifically Hochschild's concept of 4 emotion work' to inform my analysis. Thematic analysis of the data - fieldnotes, interview transcripts and completed questionnaires was undertaken This revealed a number of major thematic areas and a number of sub-themes. These major themes are, 'men's emotion work',
'being and doing', ' tensions and control,' and 'the environment of care'.
The researcher revealed some of the significant tensions and causes of anxiety for men as they seek to reconcile the demands and expectations of fatherhood in a neonatal unit. These men faced a situation where they were attempting to find a balance between 'what they wanted to feel' and 'what they thought others wanted them to feel'. Feelings of being judged by others and judging others feature within the data. There is clear evidence that neonatal unit staff and mothers alike recognised the significance of fathers' perspectives and the importance of their involvement in families. Both mothers and staff made interconnected and coordinated efforts to include fathers in infant care activities and decision-making in the neonatal unit.
Most of the men who took part in this study reported positive experiences of relating to health care staff and of their time on the neonatal unit. Analysis suggests that the concept of emotion work can contribute to an exploration of fathers' experiences. However, the concept's extensive reference to the externalities of emotion tends to underplay the amount of emotion work carried out by less expressive individuals; this 'silente motion work' has characterised the men in this study.
This research aims to contribute to cross-disciplinary understanding of the experience of fatherhood. In particular, by drawing on the sociology of emotion and sociological analysis of families it adds to the body of nursing research in neonatology, I make a number of recommendations for developing neonatl health care practice and some suggestions for further research in this area.

Repository Staff Only: item control page