Inform+art - Critical Research on Men in Europe


Information Networking on Men’s Practices in Europe

Jeff Hearn (Swedish School of Economics, Helsinki, and University of Manchester) ,




(University of Bielefeld),

1 Elzbieta Oleksy

(University of Lodz)

, 1 Keith Pringle

(University of Sunderland) ,


Emmi Lattu (Swedish School of Economics, Helsinki) ,



Chernova (European University at St. Petersburg) ,


Harry Ferguson (University College

Dublin) ,


Øystein Gullvåg Holter (Work Research Institute, Oslo) ,


Voldemar Kolga

(University of Tallinn) ,


Irina Novikova (University of Latvia) ,


Tamar Pitch (University of

Camerino) ,


Carmine Ventimiglia (University of Parma) ,


Teemu Tallber g (Swedish School of

Economics, Helsinki) ,


Jackie Millett (University of Sunderland) ,


Eivind Olsvik (Nordic

Institute for Women's Studies and Gender Research, Oslo)



Critical Approaches to Men’s Practices

For a long time, men, masculinity and men’s powers and practices were generally taken-for-granted. Gender was largely seen as a matter of and for women; men were generally seen as ungendered, natural or naturalised. More recently this has been subject to various social changes throughout Europe. In much of Europe contemporary gender relations can be characterised by relatively rapid change in certain respects, for example, higher rates of separation and divorce, and new employment patterns, alongside the persistence of long-term historical trends, such as men’s domination of management, and men’s propensity to use violence and commit crime. An important feature and effect of such changing gender relations has been the growing realisation that men and masculinities are just as gendered as are women and femininities. This has led to the growth of critical studies on men and increased

European networking between researchers. These matters have many implications for information specialists and the development of information sources, and are the focus of considerable current research and information networking in Europe.


The Aims and Objectives of the Research Network

It was from this background that in March 2000, following several years of networking, the European Research Network on Men in Europe project, “The Social

Problem and Societal Problematisation of Men and Masculinities”, was initiated. The

Network, funded 2000–2003 by the Research Directorate of the European

Commission under its Framework 5 Programme, brings together women and men researchers researching men and masculinities in an explicitly gendered way . Such meetings of women and men researchers are extremely important, necessary and timely in the developing good quality research and information on men in Europe.

Research and information on men that draws only on the work of men is likely to neglect the very important research on men that has been and is being made by women. Research and networking amongst only men researchers is likely to

1 Principal contractor. 2 Network co-ordinator. 3 Network participant.

4 Research assistant.

5 Network administrator. 6 Co-ordinator for Critical Studies on Men, NIKK, Oslo.


reproduce existing gender inequalities of research development. Gender-collaborative research is necessary in the pursuit of gender equality and combating discrimination more generally. The Network comprises researchers with various disciplinary backgrounds from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland,

Russian Federation, and the UK. In the longer term, it is planned to include researchers from other European countries, both within and outside the European

Union. The Network’s perspectives are characterised as: comparative orientation ; gendered approach to research ; multiple methods ; and ethical sensitivity .

The overall aim of the Network is to develop empirical, theoretical and policy outcomes on the gendering of men and masculinities.


major part of the


is the improvement of information on men in Europe.

Specific objectives are:

(i) To analyse and understand more fully across the EU and its potential new members the differential associations of men's practices with a variety of social problems including: men’s relations to home and work; men’s relations to social exclusion; men’s violences; and men’s health . These four themes are the main initial focus of the

Network’s information work.

(ii) To formulate provisional strategies to address some of those social problems in terms of national and EU responses on equal opportunities and other policy areas.

(iii) To identify areas for ongoing enquiry in order to further develop such strategies.

(iv) In the context of EU enlargement, to anticipate some of the national and transnational social problems relating to the impact of men's practices upon social cohesion and inclusion in existing and new member states of the EU.

(v) To gain more adequate understandings of contemporary and changing representations of men, and negotiations around such representations in governmental, media and research contexts.

The overall aim of the Network is to develop empirical, theoretical and policy outcomes on the gendering of men and masculinities. A major part of the work is the improvement of information on men in Europe, in particular: men's relations to home and work; men's relations to social exclusion; men's violences; and men's health.

3. Information Methods

Initially, four methods are being used over these three years to gather information on critical research on men, and develop research in the ten countries:

(i) Reviews of relevant academic and analytical literature within each country.

The large amount of existing material is often scattered within a wide variety of different traditions and disciplinary locations;

(ii) Reviews of each country’s statistical sources;

(iii) Reviews of governmental and quasi-governmental legal and policy statements that explicitly address men;

(iv) Reviews of national press output to examine explicit and implicit analyses on men and masculinities.

In each case, national reports, as well as a summary report, are being written, focusing on men’s relations to home and work; men’s relations to social exclusion; men’s violences; and men’s health.

4. Information Outreach


The Research Network acts as an information resource for other researchers, policymakers and practitioners for the future. Currently, it is either actively seeking, or planning, to achieve this several ways including:

(a) the web-based European Database / European Documentation Centre on men.

This became operational early 2001. They are located at the website of the allied

“umbrella” network: Critical Research on Men in Europe (CROME)


). The national reports and the cross-Europe summaries (thus far on academic research and statistical information) are available at that site under

‘Publications’. There is also other useful information here, including ‘Resources’

(including abstracts and bibliographic information), ‘Links’, ‘Events’. We are keen for contact with others sharing similar information and bibliographic interests.

(b) interface workshops and an international conference, involving Network members and key personnel in terms of research/policy-making/practice, and geared to making key outcomes more widely known.

(c) linking with other researchers in other countries in Europe and beyond.

5. Comparative Information Issues

One of the most important reasons for adopting a comparative approach is the potential offered for interrogating the assumptions that underpin information gathering in different countries. Such a process facilitates a deconstruction of actual and potentially more effective policies and practices, including those on information collection and analysis. It is clearly difficult to summarise the state of research and statistical information on men in the ten countries, even though the Network is at this stage focusing on only four main themes. The state of studies on men in the ten nations varies in volume and detail of information, the ways in which this has been framed, as well as substantive differences in men’s societal position and practices. In the Network’s work existing extensive reviews of academic knowledge have been supplemented by those of statistical information from the national statistical offices. For example, in Estonia this is the Statistical Office of Estonia; in Finland this is Statistics Finland; in Poland it is the

Chief Statistical Office; in the UK this is the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and so on. In some cases much of this material is available electronically, through websites, diskettes and/or CD-ROMs; in others extensive library work and examination of printed paper reports have been necessary; and in some cases there have been further contacts with key governmental statisticians and other researchers in the theme areas. In some cases, some national statistics are produced in both national languages and English. In some cases, sources arising from international cooperation are important, for example, in Estonia, the report issued by Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science (Norway) in cooperation with Ministry of Social Affairs of Estonia, Statistical Office of Estonia and

University of Tartu. This collaborative survey, NORBALT, has been carried in 1994 and 1999 by these institutions on living conditions in the Baltic states and the two

Russian regions of St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad.

An interesting and paradoxical issue is that the more that focused gendered research on men is done the greater is the realisation of the information gaps that exist, both substantively and methodologically. In some senses there is a wealth of research and statistical information on men, especially on work, employment, demography, family arrangements, health, illness and mortality. However, closer reading shows that while national research and statistical systems provide a broad range of relevant information, they usually have significant shortcomings. Explicit gendering of statistics is still not usual; there is an absence of focused statistical studies of men, especially differences


amongst men. Many statistical studies are relatively cautious in their critical commentary; many provide data for further analysis, interrogation, comparison and theory development. This is partly a reflection of traditions around rules of statistical inference, and partly as many studies are produced within governmental contexts where such further analysis and critique is not seen as appropriate There is a continuing need to attend with great care to the source and methodology of information and statistics on men’s practices. For example, focused surveys of women’s experience of men’s sexual violence tend to produce higher reports than general crime victim surveys. In turn, the latter tend to produce higher figures than police and criminal justice statistics. Thus the use of statistics on men’s practices is a question for both technical improvement and policy judgement. These are all matters at the heart of the Network’s ongoing work.