Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work Honours


Faculty of Regional Professional Studies

First Advisor

Pauline Meemeduma


This study was based on the belief that the dynamics of personal relationships is the basis of social life and personal well-being. There is growing support in the literature however suggesting that the gap between men's family relationship functioning, and their ideals of how life ought to be is widening. The purpose of this research therefore was to explore through men's own experiences what their perception of a 'good' family is, and how this understanding shapes their roles and functioning within their family. Using the three concepts of family as a symbolic structure of meaning, masculinity and cognition, as the theoretical framework to guide the study, four men participated in unstructured interviews. Results were analysed utilising the symbolic interaction perspective incorporating Kelley's Personal Construct theory and Goldstein's Cognitive-Humanistic approach. Findings highlight the implications for working with men in the human services and the inadequacies of current deficit approaches. A recommendation for development of improved conceptual models based on empowerment and strength perspectives is suggested if meeting men's needs and improving their relationships within their families is to be realised.