School of Sociology and Social Policy

Timescapes: An ESRC Qualitative Longitudinal Initiative

Masculinities, Identities and Risk: Transition in the Lives of Men as Fathers

Masculinities, Identities and Risk header image

Project Description

Becoming a father for the first time can be a life-changing experience.

The Men as Fathers project sought to find out just how life-changing it is by drawing on and extending a previous Economic and Social Research Council-funded project (ESRC) carried out from 1999 to 2001 (referred to as our heritage sample).

The extended project explored ways in which men come to terms with becoming a first-time father and any implications this has for their identities, relationships and lives over time.

Research questions

Methods for data collection

Qualitative longitudinal (QL) information, collected from the heritage sample of men in 1999 (before and after the birth of their first child), was revisited by the project team to gain a more focused understanding of the experiences of fathers over a time of intensive change.

A fourth interview with nineteen participants from this group when their first child was eight years old allowed us to explore to what extent the fathers’ aspirations and ideas of risk have changed over the years due to fatherhood. Under Timescapes, the project sample was also extended to include a group of sixteen men from South Wales who were interviewed three times over an eighteen-month period covering the transition to first-time fatherhood.

The data - mainly (but not exclusively) collected through semi-structured interviews organised around biographical/life story themes - showed the unique potential of QL study for the collection of temporal data. Development of our questioning strategy within the interviews enabled us to bring further to the fore issues of biographical and generational (dis)continuities and socio-cultural change, along with participants’ complex understandings of time.

Visual methods also formed an important aspect of our project work, with different techniques used in each round of interviews (collage, visual narrative and self-generated images). We paid particular attention to the use of supplementary techniques in expanding participants’ temporal horizons.

The project research has produced over 130 interview and focus group transcripts; the majority of which have been transferred to the Timescapes archive.

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