How is a Man Supposed to be a Man?: Male Childlessness – a Life Course Disrupted | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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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)

ISBN  978-1-80539-129-6 $39.95/£31.95 / Pb / Published (November 2023)

eISBN 978-1-80539-392-4 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“In this book Hadley lays bare the complex contexts surrounding aging and male childlessness in particular in a powerfully emotive and academically rigorous manner. The book contains a powerful message to those in academia and policymakers and institutional stakeholders, of the urgent need to acknowledge this structurally excluded population. The book is of interest not only to gerontologists but anthropologists, demographers, embryologists, psychologists, sociologists, practitioners in health and care, counsellors, social workers and students at all levels and the general public.” • British Society of Gerontology

“a groundbreaking book shining the light on men and their experiences, how men may feel when they don’t end up having children for one reason or another e.g. not meeting the right person, infertility.” • Guild of Health Writers

“This book provides gerontologists with much needed insights into the lived experiences of male childlessness from a life course perspective embedded in critical theoretical approaches on normative life course expectations, ageing and gender, as well as family and social relations… 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…The methods chapter can be added to reading lists for postgraduate students and the pen portraits of each of the interviewees are a rare and valuable source for learning about qualitative research and reflexivity.” • 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.

Article in The Guardian newspaper featuring an interview with the author.

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


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