Narratives of Human Agency Among Low Income Incarcerated Fathers
Fang, Jennifer Jing
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Prior literature has focused on studying low income or incarcerated fathers from a deficit perspective. For example, there is ample evidence showing that high risk behaviors are associated with children who have non-custodial fathers and about mothers' perspectives on father absence. However, there is still a lack of literature about how these fathers experience agency to take control and make change in their lives in spite of the barriers they face. I conduct a secondary analysis of life history interviews of 40 fathers in a work release program. The theoretical framework that guides this study is narrative inquiry, using sensitizing concepts from McAdams' (2001) four themes of agency: self mastery, status/victory, achievement/responsibility, and empowerment. Out of McAdams' four themes, self mastery and achievement/responsibility were the most prominent themes of agency. Additional emergent themes of agency are found in fathers' life history narratives.