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Abstract

Using ethnographic and interview data, this paper explores the impacts of economic strain and job loss on the construction and experience of masculinity, as well as the effects of threats to masculine identity on family stability in a rural American community. It looks at these issues specifically with reference to the high correlation between poverty and single parenting, in order to better understand the causal mechanisms responsible for this link in a rural setting. It challenges the mainstream argument that it is women's marriage choices that are mainly responsible for this correlation. Building on and extending the work of previous researchers, the paper argues that men's experiences with masculinity in times of economic and labor market stress seriously undermine their abilities to sustain functioning relationships.

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