Masculinities, Identities and Risk: Transition in the Lives of Men as Fathers
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.
- How do men interpret the changes in their relationships, identities and lives as they enter parenthood, and how do they understand and negotiate masculinities, fatherhood and risk across biographical, generational and historical time?
- How does conducting an interpretive, qualitative longitudinal study illuminate the shifting experiences, patterns of identification, linked lives, and socio-cultural dynamics involved in the making of men and fathers?
- How effective is the strategy of using cultural images to historically contextualise biographical data? What is the utility of a research design combining intensive and extensive tracking of individuals across different life stages?
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.
Reports and Publications
- Publications List Project 4 [PDF: 142KB]
- Project 4 Final Report [PDF: 254 KB]
- Policy Briefing Paper 4 [PDF: 1.7MB]
- Guide to Men as Fathers Dataset [PDF: 364 KB]
- Current Work 2011 [PDF: 130KB]
- Report of meeting between Timescapes Men as Fathers and The Oldest Generation projects - July 08 [PDF: 74KB]