Ticking the boxes: fathers’ performativity, change and intimate partner violence

Guðjónsdóttir, Rannveig Ágústa and Stanley, Nicky orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7644-1625 (2023) Ticking the boxes: fathers’ performativity, change and intimate partner violence. Nordic Social Work Research . pp. 1-13. ISSN 2156-857X

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/2156857X.2023.2294292


Increasingly, perpetrator programmes that specialize in working with fathers who have been violent towards their partners aim both to improve parenting skills and to challenge and change men’s abusive behaviour. The context of the cultural discourses around fatherhood against which programmes are delivered have however received little recognition. We contribute to this conversation by exploring how eight fathers in Iceland approach fatherhood in their process of changing violent behaviour. Inspired by feminist post structural theories, the analysis shows that fatherhood could be performative at times. Fathers tried to perform fatherhood in line with dominant discourses of gender equal and involved fatherhood to assert their identities as good and respectable men and avoid shame. However, this performance did not necessarily engage with or show understanding of their children’s perspectives. When these fathers did engage in uncomfortable conversations with their children it had potential to move them towards change through critical reflections on their violent behaviour and ongoing power differences. This paper provides insights into possibilities of and obstacles to change for violent fathers that may prove useful for perpetrator programmes that intersect work on men‘s intimate partner violence with addressing their fathering skills and capacity.

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