Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 407–433 | Cite as

My Wife Can Tell Me Who I Know: Methodological and Conceptual Problems in Studying Fathers

  • Annette Lareau


Using in-depth interviews with white and black families with children in third and fourth grade, as well as intensive home observations of twelve families, this study found fathers were not useful sources of information for the routines of family life. They did not know much; most of what they knew came from their wives. Reports by fathers of high levels of involvement were not confirmed by detailed interviews or observation. Yet, fathers were an important source of entertainment, a center of conversation, and teachers of certain life skills. The results suggest researchers need to focus more on what fathers actually do in family life, particularly setting the tone in the fluid interactional character of family dynamics.

fatherhood gender division of labor family 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annette Lareau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphia

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