It's a Setup: Fathering from the Social and Economic Margins

Timothy Black; Sky Keyes

The expectation for fathers to be more involved with parenting their children and pitching in at home are higher than ever, yet broad social, political, and economic changes have made it more difficult for low-income men to be fathers. In It's a Setup, Timothy Black and Sky Keyes ground a moving and intimate narrative in the political and economic circumstances that shape the lives of low-income fathers. Based on 138 life history interviews, they expose the contradiction that while the norms and expectations of father involvement have changed rapidly within a generation, labor force and state support for fathering on the margins has deteriorated. Tracking these life histories, they move us through the lived experiences of job precarity, welfare cuts, punitive child support courts, public housing neglect, and the criminalization of poverty to demonstrate that without transformative systemic change, individual determination is not enough. Fathers on the social and economic margins are setup to fail.


List of Illustrations
Chapter One Introduction
PART ONE Neoliberal Capitalism
Chapter Two It's the Economy, Stupid
Chapter Three Welfare Reform and Market Economy
Chapter Four I Ain't No Fucking Check, I'm a Father
PART TWO Social and Economic Marginalization
Chapter Five Public Housing and the Streets
Chapter Six Fathering Through the Looking Glass
PART THREE Relationships and Standpoints
Chapter Seven Intimacy, Masculinity, and Relating
Chapter Eight Fathers Making Sense of It All


Timothy Black is Associate Professor of Sociology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author and co-author of two award winning books: When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers On and Off the Street and On Becoming Teen Mom: Life Before Pregnancy, with Mary Patrice Erdmans. Sky Keyes has devoted his life to providing direct services to and advocacy for underrepresented and at-risk populations. Currently, he is working on the front lines at the Homeless Prenatal Program to support families hardest hit by the Bay Area's housing crisis. His past work includes police brutality, anti-war, prison, and labor activism; mental health counselling in an acute psychiatric unit; and housing case management for dually diagnosed clients in San Francisco's Tenderloin District.