Original Articles

Why Young Men in South Africa Plan to Become Teenage Fathers: Implications for the Development of Masculinities within Contexts of Poverty

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 20, issue 4, 2010 , pages: 527–536
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2010.10820411
Author(s): Lynn HendricksEarly Learning Resource Unit, South Africa, Sharlene SwartzHuman Sciences Research Council, South Africa, Arvin BhanaHuman Sciences Research Council, South Africa


Drawing on in-depth interviews with young fathers (n=37) aged 14 to 20 in impoverished communities in South Africa, this study focuses on the young men who intentionally planned to have children while still teenagers. It interrogates their reasons for doing so, as well as their responses to their impending fatherhood and reactions after the birth of their child. Reasons such as wish-fulfillment, leaving a legacy, wanting to keep a partner, and wanting to be seen as ‘fashionable’ amongst their peers are discussed. An analysis is provided of the relationship between young fatherhood, poverty and masculinities. Key to the discussion are the interrelated notions of ownership and responsibility, and the ways in which impoverished young men find young fatherhood to be a powerful mediator in contexts where alternative pathways to exhibiting dominant masculinities are scarce.

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