Week 5

making fathers pay

Key Questions

  • How has the child support enforcement system developed? How have feminists contributed to its development?

  • How did pathologizing and racist narratives of “deadbeat dads” contribute to the formation of the child support enforcement system? In what ways does the child support enforcement system reinforce a neoliberal order?

  • How does the child support enforcement system criminalize and punish fathers?

Required Materials:

Supplementary Materials:


Research the child support system and its effects on men, particularly Black and poor men. How does child support reinforce a narrative of individual responsibility and reify the nuclear family as the principal site of social reproduction? How is child support representative of carceral power (e.g., through policing and incarceration)? How does child support contribute to the myth of the “deadbeat dad” and “welfare queen”? After researching child support, consider and discuss whether the abolition of child support is a necessary component of abolition and reproductive justice.