Incarceration and Partner Relationships: A Qualitative Analysis of Men's Perceptions of Social Support

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Incarceration impacts families in a number of different ways ranging from emotional distress, economic challenges, and social stigma. The purpose of this analysis was to explore how men's perceptions of support from their partners during incarceration and community reentry shape intimate partnerships. Using secondary data content analysis, a sample of 20 fathers from the Fathers and Families Resource and Research Center study dataset has been examined (Roy, 2002-2004). Using family stress theory and symbolic interactionism, qualitative methods were used to examine life history interviews. Interviews were coded for themes related to past incarceration, intimate partnerships, and social support. Overall, men reported feeling supported in their roles as partners across their relationship trajectories and support shifted occurred from their roles as romantic partners to their roles as co-parents. Community reentry was an especially significant time that support mattered due to the recommitments that many made to fatherhood during this process.