On Dads and Damages: Looking for the ''Priceless Child'' and the ''Manly Modern'' in Quebec’s Civil Courts, 1921-1960

On Dads and Damages: Looking for the ''Priceless Child'' and the ''Manly Modern'' in Quebec’s Civil Courts, 1921-1960

On Dads and Damages: Looking for the ''Priceless Child'' and the ''Manly Modern'' in Quebec’s Civil Courts, 1921-1960

On Dads and Damages: Looking for the ''Priceless Child'' and the ''Manly Modern'' in Quebec’s Civil Courts, 1921-1960s

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Référence bibliographique [19448]

Histoire Sociale / Social History, vol. 49, no 100, p. 603-623.

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Fiche synthèse

1. Objectifs


Intentions :
Cet article aborde l’interprétation des droits et responsabilités juridiques des pères par les tribunaux civils québécois durant la période de 1921 à 1960.

Questions/Hypothèses :
The article is based on a series of questions: «What sort of compensation could a father expect, and on what legal basis, should his minor child be killed or injured as a result of someone else’s transgression? Conversely, where did a father’s responsibility for the harmful acts of his minor children begin and end? Could he be held accountable before the law for failing to provide the education and vigilance that might have prevented a child’s dangerous behaviour? Finally, how, if at all, did these dynamics evolve in Quebec between 1921 and 1960?» (p. 605)

2. Méthode


Échantillon/Matériau :
«The particular focus in this essay is a set of 59 civil suits in which claims for damages were made either by or against Quebec fathers […].» (p. 605)

Type de traitement des données :
Analyse de contenu
Réflexion critique

3. Résumé


The author concludes that «[l]awsuits claiming a father’s liability for his son’s injurious acts offer another window onto this ideology [manly modern] while adding a fresh dimension: that of the father-son relationship as a key locus of its transmission. With the spread of powerful technologies, especially the automobile, new challenges and expectations emerged for teenagers and young men caught between the power, fun, and excitement of risk-taking behaviour and the exigencies of modern manhood, with all its emphasis on responsible risk management. The idea that fathers should teach their sons to manage this tension is revealed clearly in these cases […]. In many cases, the failure to equip their sons with both a proper sense of masculine responsibility and the privileged bodies of knowledge required to safely operate modern machines like bicycles and rifles—but especially cars—was a failure to live up to the expectations of twentieth-century society with regard to the proper performance of the paternal role. Those failures are valuable, as in any historical study of transgression, mainly for what they tell us about the boundaries across which men as fathers (and thus as teachers and role models, especially for their sons) were not expected or, ultimately, permitted to stray.» (p. 622-623)