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Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City
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Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  110 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of today. Doing the Best I Can is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as "deadbeat dads." Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine how couples in challenging straits come together and get pregnant so quickly--without ...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published June 1st 2013 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jul 17, 2015 Christina rated it liked it
Shelves: read-books-2014
Did I like this book? It's hard for me to say. This star rating honors the hard work of the authors, but it doesn't reflect the notion that this book includes scintillating writing or agreement with the subjects.

The authors spent years embedding themselves in poor communities in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area, talking to unmarried fathers to find out what made them tick. They wanted to do away with the idea that poor unmarried fathers are careless, oversexed villains.

What they found were
Aug 23, 2015 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read, reviewed
An insightful highly important book: "Doing The Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City" examines poor urban fatherhood in the areas of low income and impoverished neighborhoods of the Philadelphia, PA, and Camden, NJ areas. The book is expertly researched and written by sociologist Kathryn Edin and author Timothy J. Nelson, who lived in the neighborhoods studied. Edin is known for her expertise in poverty studies and the co-author of "Promises I Can Keep" (2005) which examines the plight of po ...more
May 05, 2014 Downward rated it really liked it
This is an ethnography about unmarried fathers in inner city areas. It uses a large pool of unmarried black and white fathers from Camden or Philadelphia, and deals primarily with the hardships and blessings that come from situational fatherhood, as well as a thorough examination of what it means to be a father (and as extension, a man) in the twenty first century. The book is objective, reports facts and uses data to back it up. In spite of that (or because of that? The lines are blurred) the s ...more
Mar 30, 2014 Cyd rated it liked it
In fairness I didn't finish the book. I was hoping for something along the lines of Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx or There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in The Other America. The book is very well researched and offers insight into the lives of a population that tends to get blamed for a lot of problems regardless of what the truth is. That said instead of focusing on say a small handful of men and really offering a full picture of e ...more
Jun 19, 2014 Amanda rated it liked it
Having read Kathryn Edin's study on inner-city mothers, I had high expectations for this book. Her analysis of mothers was a compassionate and nuanced portrait of young mothers that made the reader reconsider previous assumptions about why and how poor, young girls become mothers. Most of the mothers portrayed in that book are changed by the birth of their children and become competent caretakers. The fathers never quite become so understandable to me. They see themselves as without agency almos ...more
Aug 02, 2015 Jen rated it it was amazing
Carefully researched and well written. This book gave me a new perspective on fatherhood for those who are down on luck but still trying to be good dads.
Michael Bell
It was very sobering. I think of the children born in unstable relationships. I think of the casual sex that produces children. There weren't enough success stories to overcome the pain of children who live in unstable situations.
Oct 10, 2014 Denali rated it really liked it
An excellent piece of fieldwork. Stereotypes and received wisdom play a deceptively strong and nearly always harmful role in shaping public opinion and public policy. Doing the Best I can is an admirable work that brings a nuanced and thoughtful explanation to unmarried fatherhood and how it affects families and children. Edin is kind to her subjects though she remains clear eyed as she notes the limits of their financial contributions and the role their own choices play in estranging themselves ...more
Lori M.
Sep 10, 2013 Lori M. rated it really liked it
Now that I am traveling into Camden more frequently for my job as a photojournalist, I was very interested in reading this book. I found the intensive research the authors did very interesting, and while the spectrum for how actively engaged these fathers that were followed varies greatly (from nonexistent in their children's lives to the sole reason they have become productive members of society), that is exactly what makes this study intriguing.
Mar 15, 2014 ashwini rated it liked it
While I appreciated this book greatly, the stories really read like a primer on male privilege. Especially when taken in conjunction with Promises I Can Keep, it's obvious that women bear the overwhelming burden of raising children, while men both in practice and in theory have to do very little in order to consider themselves or be considered "good" fathers.
Aug 19, 2013 Rachael rated it liked it
A very personal insight into how others view relationships/parenthood. It was a little difficult to read a book that's based on the complete opposite of my personal beliefs. I read the first few chapters, then skimmed the rest. A very detailed and impressive amount of research went into this book. Gotta give the authors props for that.
Sep 29, 2013 Miriam rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology
Well researched and written. Insightful things to say about a population most don't pay any attention to. Sometimes the language is a little dry, and there are so many fathers that are used as examples that sometimes it's a little confusing.
Stephen Cranney
Jan 28, 2016 Stephen Cranney rated it it was amazing
Along with its earlier companion about unmarried, inner-city mothers, this book is required reading for anybody living in or near an inner-city, low-income area.
Nicole Davidson
May 20, 2016 Nicole Davidson rated it it was ok
Had to read for a class. Jumped around too much in my opinion and was hard to follow all the different stories.
Peter Mccullough
Jan 02, 2016 Peter Mccullough rated it really liked it
Really interesting angle, dispelling the easy narrative of absentee fatherhood . Well researched.
Jul 17, 2013 Shari rated it it was amazing
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Kathryn Edin is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins.
More about Kathryn Edin...

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