Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication & Theatre Arts


Lifespan and Digital Communication

Committee Director

Thomas J. Socha

Committee Member

Gary Beck

Committee Member

E. James Baesler

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.C47 J66 2015


The notion of work whether it is done inside or outside the home represents a complex and shifting pattern of social relationships, gender role identities, and ideologies. For an increasing numbers of men, who represent the population of fathers labeled as "stay-at-Home Dad" [SAHD] or "stay-at-home father" [SAHF], these changes have created special challenges, controversies, and raised questions about cultural expectations concerning the transition from that of a stigmatized role to that of a "new, involved father" (Eranta & Moisander, 2011; Rochlen, 2008). Increased participation by men in roles that challenge traditional and long standing gender role norms and expectations also challenges how men and women behave, and how popular culture speaks to our understanding of stay-at-home fathers and the communication challenges they face. The purpose of this qualitative study is to better understand the communicative discourse of contemporary stay-at-home fathers (SAHF) and the resulting narratives in relation to their roles as men, fathers, and workers.

Using a Grounded Theory Approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), narratives of stayat-home fathers were gathered through personal interviews and evaluated using constant comparative methodology involving multiple readings of the transcribed interviews. This process was used to identify common themes and categories in order to better understand and identify how men in various lifespan stages talk about and view their roles as stay-at-home fathers. Specifically, how do ideas of work, its meanings and values translate into their conversations and their families' lived experiences as well as how do they perceive concepts of gender, work and family that frame the communicative discourse of stay-at-home fathers?

Contrary to previous research that viewed stay-at-home fathers as a homogeneous group, results of this study indicate there are in fact distinct differences. Specifically this study's results support a new grounded, classification scheme that arranges SAHFs along a continuum of the degree of acceptance of the SAHF role. That is, the data suggests at least four types of stay-at-home fathers that vary in the extent to which they embrace the role from high to low level of role embracing: Revolutionary Stay-at Home Father, Reformer Stay-at Home Father, Reluctant Stay-at-Home Father, and Resentful Stay-at-Home Father as well as common narratives used by the fathers in the stay-at-home role to help negotiate the balance between their role as stay-at-home father and issues of gender, identity, work, and family. Finally, implications of this study for future research seeking to examine the impact of stay-at-home fathers on resulting communication patterns within families, particularly in regard to spouses/partners and children are discussed.


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