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American FatherhoodA History$
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Jürgen Martschukat

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479892273

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479892273.001.0001

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Unemployed Fathers in the 1930s

Unemployed Fathers in the 1930s

(p.165) 9 Unemployed Fathers in the 1930s
American Fatherhood

Jürgen Martschukat

NYU Press

The ninth chapter puts its focus on the relations among gender, fatherhood, labor, and breadwinning. Based on interviews conducted by sociologist Mirra Komarovsky with unemployed white family fathers, their wives, and their children in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1930s, the chapter explores the impact of the Great Depression on white lower middle-class families and asks how the nuclear family ideal and its gendered and generational family structures depend on patterns and practices of wage earning and breadwinning. In particular, the chapter juxtaposes fathers’ attitudes toward their unemployment and the Great Depression to statements made by their family members on the fathers’ unemployment and the new division of roles in the family. Here the chapter reveals that what was experienced as a severe and depressing crisis by most husbands obviously had the potential to open up opportunities for their wives, as power relations changed and the tables were turned.

Keywords:   Great Depression, unemployment, sociology

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