The shadow fathers: Barriers to whole family approach in social work?




father involvement, family social work, qualitative research


Objective: The paper aims to explore the barriers to father involvement in family social work at the personal, cultural, and structural levels, and their interconnectedness to answer the main research question of how gendered constructions of mothers and fathers in social work affect the involvement of fathers in interventions.

Background: This paper contributes to debates about fathers in social work by examining gendered constructions of fathers in social services for families with children in the Czech Republic. The problem is viewed from the perspective of social constructionism, anti-oppressive practice, and the whole family approach.

Method: To meet the objective, we used a qualitative research strategy. 44 in-depth interviews with social workers, mothers, and fathers were carried out. After that, three focus groups with 21 social workers were formed.

Results: The results show that mothers and fathers are treated differently in social work, and femininity and masculinity are perceived as dichotomous opposites. This hinders fathers' involvement in family services and puts responsibility for solving family problems to mothers.

Conclusion: Most of these barriers at the micro- and mezzo-levels are in some way related to system barriers at the macro-level, which are often shaped by gender discourses.


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How to Cite

Gřundělová, B., Černý, J., Gojová, A., Stanková, Z., & Lisník, J. (2023). The shadow fathers: Barriers to whole family approach in social work?. Journal of Family Research, 35, 85–102.