'Walk with your head high': African and African-Caribbean fatherhood, children's mental well-being and social capital

Bob Williams, Alistair Hewison, Chris Wagstaff, Duncan Randall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. The findings presented in this article were unanticipated and came to light during a study which investigated African and African-Caribbean fathers' views about preventive primary care services. This article reports findings which indicate that African and African-Caribbean fathers strive to enable and protect children's mental well-being and create social, cultural and symbolic forms of capital. It also seeks to identify implications for health and social care policy and practice in England.

Design. There is limited literature examining African and African-Caribbean fathers' health experiences in England. Consequently an exploratory research approach was required. This involved nine, in-depth, semi-structured qualitative group interviews undertaken with 46 African and African-Caribbean fathers. The data were analysed thematically using abductive reasoning, informed by Bourdieu's theoretical work.

Results. Fathers were striving to enable and protect children's mental well-being through providing authoritative, loving, affectionate fatherhood involving reasoning, good communication and promoting self-esteem. These practices were seen to be necessary if children were to prosper in a harsh social world characterised by structural hazards including racism, negative stereotypes and limited opportunities. The fathers reported their efforts to develop what Bourdieu has termed symbolic, cultural and social capital as means of promoting the mental well-being of their children and the children of others.

Conclusion. The implications for theory, future research, public health policy and practice, in relation to the needs of African and African-Caribbean fathers and families, are also discussed, with specific focus on how to realise the potential of African and African-Caribbean fathers' positive contributions to family and community health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-103
Number of pages15
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number1-2
Early online date11 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


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