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Gendered representations of fatherhood in contemporary South African church imagery from three Afrikaans corporate churches

Leandra H. Koenig-Visagie, Jeanne van Eeden

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 34, No 1 (2013), 12 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v34i1.760

Submitted: 29 June 2012
Published:  24 October 2013


The South African secular media do not frequently portray men in parental roles; on the other hand, it seems that media and visual culture created by the Christian sector is more likely to engage with issues of fatherhood. Accordingly, it is relevant to explore representations of fatherhood in the Christian context, as these constitute some of the few examples of men’s parental roles in the South African visual culture landscape. Through a Barthean visual semiotic analysis, this article describes and problematises the representation (and non-representation) of certain aspects of fatherhood in the recent visual culture of three Afrikaans corporate churches in the Pretoria-Centurion area. It further establishes that strong connections between breadwinning, male headship and fatherhood exist in images created by these churches. Fathers are mainly shown as patriarchs, heads of households and as active outdoor adventurers. We argue that although men are depicted as involved parents, there are certain limitations and exclusions to this involvement.

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Author affiliations

Leandra H. Koenig-Visagie, Institute for Gender Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Jeanne van Eeden, Department of Visual Arts, University of Pretoria, South Africa


fatherhood; gender representation; church images; visual semiotic analysis


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