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Informe resumido

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00008
Financiado con arreglo a: FP5-HUMAN POTENTIAL
País: United Kingdom

The social problem of men: Key empirical, theoretical and research outcomes of the project

- Men in Europe
The conceptualisation of the Network’s activity around the notion of ‘men in Europe’, rather than, say, the ‘European man’ or ‘men’, highlights the social construction, and historical mutability, of men, within the contexts of both individual European nations and the EU. As such, this does not mean that we have assumed that there is a specific meaning to “being a European man”. Particular consideration needs to be given to the ways in which policy development is being directed by the European Union towards the countries of central and eastern Europe. The concern is not only that such policy imperatives may be enhancing gendered social disadvantages for women in favour of men but that these imperatives (in terms of their outcomes) may be running directly counter to other criteria identified by the Union as being keys for countries seeking membership: for instance, criteria relating to gender mainstreaming.

- Comparative issues
There are also many theoretical issues raised by the Network’s activities. Much of the main theoretical scholarship on men and masculinities has been conducted within the context of individual countries – Australia, Germany, Norway, UK, US, and so on. By broadening the range of national and cultural context, albeit within the European region, this present work seeks to add a much stronger comparative and contingent approach to these studies, both theoretically and empirically.

- Men’s power
Recent studies have foregrounded questions of men’s power, and men’s relations to power. There is a profound and enduring contradiction between men’s dominance in politics, state and economy, and the social exclusion of some groupings of men. There is a comparable contradiction between the high responsibility placed upon some men for societal development, and the recognition of some men’s irresponsible behaviour in terms of health, violence and care. These can both be seen as cultural expressions of traditional forms of masculinity.

- Changing forms of masculinities and men’s gender practices
In many countries and until relatively recently established forms of masculinity and men’s practices could be distinguished on two major dimensions - urban and rural; bourgeois and working class. The exact ways these four forms, and their permutations, were practiced clearly varied between societies and cultures. In recent years, all these forms of masculinity and men’s practices have been subject to major social change. Recent pluralised approaches to masculinities, including hegemonic masculinity, as the configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of legitimacy of patriarchy, and which guarantees (or is taken to guarantee) the dominant position of men and the subordination of women.

- De-patriarchalisation and re-patriarchalisation
There are also indications of both de-patriarchalisation and re-patriarchalisation; of some growing uncertainty around masculinity, which may itself be connoted as ‘not masculine’.

- Homogenisation, diversifications and problematisations
There is a widening set of contradictions between, the one hand, the moves towards homogenisation in men and masculinities through globalisation, and, on the other hand, the moves to diversifications of gender, including the increasing problematisation of traditional and given aspects of men and masculinities.

- Gaps
As we envisaged at the outset of this Network, the many “gaps” we have discovered in all the materials available concerning men’s practices in Europe are just as crucial as those materials, which are available.

These absences or silences are especially important in terms of:
-- What is researched and what is not researched, and where;
-- What issues are addressed by policy and which are not, and where.

We believe particular attention must be paid to addressing these absences if effective policymaking about a range of critical social and political issues is to be developed. The alternative may be policy, which is not only inappropriate but also dangerous to various categories of citizens within Europe.

- Gender collaboration in research
Gender collaboration needs to be established in research and in designing strategies to monitor social problems. There is a clear need to maintain the close and integral relation of research on men and feminist research. Without this, research on men will be uniformed of the most developed theoretical and emprical research on gender.

- Research and policy
Both between countries and within individual countries there are clearly major mismatches between, on the one hand, those issues which are identified as crucial by research studies and, on the other hand, those issues which do (or do not) attain importance at the policy level. This finding clearly calls into question the policymaking processes, which differentially operate across the nations of Europe. Whilst it is clear that relationship between the research and policy-making communities varies considerably from one country to another, there seems to be a more general problem about this mismatch between priorities identified in research and priorities addressed by policy-makers.

Whilst it is inevitable that political considerations will enter into decisions about policy-making, if the imbalance between research findings and policy development becomes too wide, then the effectiveness of the latter must be called into question. It should be noted that one of the many ways in which the outcomes from this Network can be used is to map the profile of academic research in any one country against the statistical and policy profiles of that country: thereby revealing the extent of fit (and non-fit) between policy priorities and research findings in that country. Using the material from this Report, we can say that the imbalance or non-fit between research findings and policy development generally seems sometimes very wide.

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