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How is a Man Supposed to be a Man?: Male Childlessness – a Life Course Disrupted

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Volume 48

Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives

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How is a Man Supposed to be a Man?

Male Childlessness – a Life Course Disrupted

Robin A. Hadley

394 pages, 12 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-187-5 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (September 2021)

eISBN 978-1-80073-188-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $39.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Robin Hadley’s work is both critical and reflexive. He locates his theoretical work within feminist scholarship and acknowledges his position within the field of research by examining his own biography and social position and what that means when conducting interviews with men who describe themselves as involuntarily childless. This insider–outsider approach underscores the author’s diligence in undertaking good qualitative research on a sensitive topic, at the same time as remaining aware of gendered positions of power. [His] thorough theoretical work, careful and truthful methodological approach, as well as his reflective style pay tribute to slow research and slow writing, and the quality it can produce.” • Aging and Society

“The book has some features that make it interesting to readers from both a professional and a wider audience. First, it is very well referenced and equipped with details related to methodology of the study… It is well written, often in a personalised language, with accounts of the author’s experiences related both to the process of data collection and analysis and to the dissemination of results. The Epilogue particularly warrants attention, as it brings reflections not only on myths around men and masculinities, but also on childlessness in later life and COVID-19 –reflections that additionally illustrate the effects of not becoming a father.” • Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology

“A highly personal book yet also an academic one with all the critical rigour that entails and makes this a compelling book. It’s a must read for illuminating men’s experiences of involuntary childlessness for one reason or another…This is a rich thought provoking emotional yet highly academic book – and with its clear structure and excellent index a huge resource to be drawn on.” • Medical Journalists Association

“I think this is an excellent piece of scholarship that covers an often unspoken topic in a sensitive, novel and comprehensive way. In this sense, it contributes important new knowledge to an area by considering it from a different viewpoint – most notably moving beyond a simple biomedical view or an experiential view of younger men and infertility.” • Steve Robertson, University of Sheffield

“This is an important piece of work that addresses areas of masculinity, sexuality, life and an exploration of lived lives through research that have previously been underrepresented in the academic and public press.” • Josephine Tetley, Manchester Metropolitan University


The global trend of declining fertility rates and an increasingly ageing population has serious implications for individuals and institutions alike. Childless men are mostly excluded from ageing, social science and reproduction scholarship and almost completely absent from most national statistics. This unique book examines the lived experiences of a hidden and disenfranchised population: men who wanted to be fathers. It explores the complex intersections that influence childlessness over the life course.

Robin A Hadley is an independent research consultant who has conducted research with the Open University and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) where he is an associate lecturer.

Subject: Gender Studies and SexualityAnthropology (General)
Area: Northern Europe


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