Shifting beliefs about gender and proper roles for men and women have brought about many changes in family life, including more men taking over the bulk of responsibility for their children’s daily care. Although there are increasingly more men serving as primary caregivers, they are an understudied population in sociology. Furthermore, in the research that does exist about these men, the samples are quite homogenous, being comprised almost entirely of white, college-educated, middle and upper class men who are married to high earning women. In this dissertation, I address the incompleteness of our understanding of primary caregiving fathers by studying a diverse sample of fathers. I ask how social class affects the experiences of primary caregiving fathers.
To answer this question, I conduct 50 in-person interviews with fathers from the working and middle classes who serve as their families’ primary caregivers. I find that social class does significantly affect primary caregiving fathers’ experiences, and in this project, I examine three specific ways it does: in ideas about gender, how choosing to become an at-home father affects satisfaction, and how the fathers respond to stereotypes others have about them. This work, based on a unique sample, makes important contributions to the literature on family life, social class, gender, and fatherhood, revealing new questions for future research.