School of Sociology and Social Policy

Timescapes: An ESRC Qualitative Longitudinal Initiative

Thinking aloud: thoughts about our research

Project 4: Masculinities, Identities and Risk

Timing of intervals between interviews

For this project, the timing of interviews became an important issue as we started to reflect upon the intervals between interviews previously conducted.

In a previous study with first time fathers, interviews were carried out at (1) 2-3 months prior to the birth, (2) 2-4 months after, and (3) when the child was 8-9 months old.

The event of the birth itself set up big differences between interviews at stages 1 and 2 and this allowed for an exploration of important changes and continuities at personal and social levels – perceptions and negotiations of change, as well as notable shifts in men's relationship to themselves, others, time, the everyday, and so on.

There were, however, no great changes for the men themselves between interviews at stages 2 and 3 but very much a continuation of what had gone before in the talk and lives of the men.

We put this down to there being no significant turning points or events (for fathers) between when the child was 4 and 9 months old, other than of course some mothers returning to work, the re-arranging of lifestyles and daily schedules, and various micro and unspoken of changes that we did not disregard. Fathers often talked of 'waiting in the wings' in interview 2 (interesting in itself, of course).

We thought that, in the next round of interviews, we'd return to participants when the child was 12 months, thinking that this could generate data on some of the macro transitions and continuities that potentially occur in the lives of first-time fathers around this time, while still capturing some of the micro shifts in these early months.

At 12 months, the child could be crawling and recognising the father more explicitly through sound/words/responsiveness that which many of the men were waiting in the wings for. The significance of 12th month as an 'anniversary', and first birthday, as a socially recognised point of temporal reference is one that we could fruitfully exploit as a time of celebration, reflection and expectation.

© Copyright Leeds 2011