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Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Morality and Society Series) [Paperback]

by W. Bradford Wilcox, Brad Wilcox
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1, 2004 0226897095 978-0226897097 1
In the wake of dramatic, recent changes in American family life, evangelical and mainline Protestant churches took markedly different positions on family change. This work explains why these two traditions responded so differently to family change and then goes on to explore how the stances of evangelical and mainline Protestant churches toward marriage and parenting influenced the husbands and fathers that fill their pews.

According to W. Bradford Wilcox, the divergent family ideologies of evangelical and mainline churches do not translate into large differences in family behavior between evangelical and mainline Protestant men who are married with children. Mainline Protestant men, he contends, are "new men" who take a more egalitarian approach to the division of household labor than their conservative peers and a more involved approach to parenting than men with no religious affiliation. Evangelical Protestant men, meanwhile, are "soft patriarchs"—not as authoritarian as some would expect, and given to being more emotional and dedicated to their wives and children than both their mainline and secular counterparts. Thus, Wilcox argues that religion domesticates men in ways that make them more responsive to the aspirations and needs of their immediate families.

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Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Morality and Society Series) + The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today (Vintage)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In the wake of dramatic, recent changes in American family life, evangelical and mainline Protestant churches took markedly different positions on family change. This work explains why these two traditions responded so differently to family change and then goes on to explore how the stances of evangelical and mainline Protestant churches toward marriage and parenting influenced the husbands and fathers that fill their pews.

According to W. Bradford Wilcox, the divergent family ideologies of evangelical and mainline churches do not translate into large differences in family behavior between evangelical and mainline Protestant men who are married with children. Mainline Protestant men, he contends, are "new men" who take a more egalitarian approach to the division of household labor than their conservative peers and a more involved approach to parenting than men with no religious affiliation. Evangelical Protestant men, meanwhile, are "soft patriarchs"—not as authoritarian as some would expect, and given to being more emotional and dedicated to their wives and children than both their mainline and secular counterparts. Thus, Wilcox argues that religion domesticates men in ways that make them more responsive to the aspirations and needs of their immediate families.

About the Author

W. Bradford Wilcox is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.

Product Details

  • Series: Morality and Society Series
  • Paperback: 337 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226897095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226897097
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars distinctions March 15, 2010
Format:Paperback
This book offers both a broad analysis of relevant data and nuanced conclusions about the socializing power of variant Christian and non-Christian worldviews on men/husbands/fathers. Simplistic characterizations of the text's careful analysis, like 'conservative Christians are more likely to beat their wives and kids than are the others', offer only an obfuscating wizardry. It's worth the read, and problematizes the easy caricatures of conservative Christianity that fill our pop culture.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Counter culture analysis September 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I appreciate that the authors came from a non-judgmental perspective and allowed the data to speak instead of coming to conclusions that American culture would assign. American Christian men get a bad rap when, in most cases, they don't deserve it. Men need some positive affirmation on how they are doing as fathers and husbands.
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13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important distinctions March 11, 2006
Format:Hardcover
This book brings some interesting distinctions to the utilitarian side of debates on religion, that is, to the evaluation of religions by their effects.

It is quite common to attribute macho attitudes to religious men, specially fundamentalist ones. Here the author makes a distinction, in the Evangelical field, between born-again Christians and those who are merely conservative and attend church because they expect themselves to do so.
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6 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars good book if you don't care about logic May 21, 2009
By rcragun
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author claims conservative Christians make better fathers and husbands than mainline Christians and non-religious men. To support his claims he uses some statistical wizardry (really just hiding things). He finds in the process that conservative Christians are more likely to beat their wives and kids than are the others. Yet, in the end, he still claims conservative Christian men make better fathers and husbands. Right!
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