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Study finds shifting domestic roles for men who lost jobs in current recession
Date:8/22/2011

LAS VEGAS The acute economic downturn that began in 2008 sometimes is called the "mancession" to reflect its harsher impact on men than women. As recently as last November, 10.4 percent of adult men were unemployed as compared to 8 percent of adult women.

But how do unemployed men cope with their shifting domestic roles, especially when they become financially dependent on a wife or female partner?

One University of Kansas researcher has investigated the impact of joblessness on masculinity and the "breadwinner ideology" within the context of traditional families.

"It changes how men think of themselves," said Ilana Demantas, doctoral student in sociology, who has interviewed 20 recently unemployed men. "Usually men see themselves as supporters of the family, and since a lot of them are no longer able to do that alone on their income, they have to construct their identity in a new way to allow them to still think positively of themselves."

Demantas will present her findings at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Working with Kristen Myers, an associate professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University, Demantas found that out-of-work men use an array of strategies to deal with their situations. While some suffer from depression, the KU researcher found among the men she studied that most proudly embrace domestic chores such as childcare and housework.

"Before unemployment, while they very much valued 'women's work,' men still constructed their identity in a way that allowed them to remain in charge," Demantas said. "Working was a way to sort of say, 'I'm the man.' But now managing the family is a way to see themselves as men. So they've actually used 'women's work' to see themselves as contributing to the family. This seems to be a silver lining in a very bleak recession."

Demantas also found that men who were out of work in the recession highly valued the e
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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