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|'Men as Fathers' - Timescapes project|
On 17th October 2011 Professor Karen Henwood was an invited panel discussant at an event held in London. The event on “Fathers, migration and transmission” was organised by Professor Julia Brannan, Institute of Education.
It was good for the MaF project to be represented at this event as, like a number of the presenters, we have been analysing fathering across generations and asking questions about intergenerational transmissions.
To make sense of their own biographical transformations, participants in our study have often reflected on connections and disconnections they perceived between different generations of fathers. We have been discussing this research finding in relation to contemporary ideas about involved fatherhood and what it requires of men: that they address aspects of their experiences and memories of relationships that are affectively charged and personally challenging and that they work through the kinds of investments they make in ideas of fatherhood and forms of masculinity – not once and for all but dynamically in and through time.
A number of methodological issues arose in the course of the discussions at the event in London. These are all ones that we have been addressing to some extent in our own project:
- Focussing on the past can open up new perspectives on, and questions, about the present
- By focussing in on both changes in the present and how they work out in the long term qualitative longitudinal studies can enable an intense engagement between researchers and their subject matter.
- Social transformations, generational transmissions and biographical transitions are mutually implicated.
- What is ethically permissible in research is a matter of convention; changes in ethical practices over time may not always lead to better research.
- Studies of parenting transitions suggest that it is important to be alert to the heat that is associated with disruptions to people’s imagined futures and life planning.
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