Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP5

Report Summary

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00008
Funded under: FP5-HUMAN POTENTIAL
Country: United Kingdom

The social problem of men: Statistical information

The explicit gendering of statistics on men’s practices:
It was noted that an interesting and paradoxical issue is that the more that research, especially focused gendered research on men, is done the more that there is a realisation of the gaps that exist, both in specific fields and at a general methodological level. Clearly a lack of data on/from men hinders research development. This conclusion cannot be said to have been reinforced in any clear way from the national reports.

On first reading it might seem that relatively few specific gaps have been identified in the statistical sources. In some senses there is indeed a wealth of information, especially on work and employment, as well as demography, family arrangements, health, illness and mortality. On the other hand, a closer reading shows that while the national statistical systems provide a broad range of relevant information, they usually have significant shortcomings. Explicit gendering of statistics is still not usual. Moreover, 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, and comparison with other data, critical comment, and theory development. This is partly a reflection of traditions around the rules of statistical inference, and partly as many studies are produced within a governmental context where such further analysis and critique is not seen as appropriate.

The source and methodology of statistics.
There is a need to attend with great care to the source and methodology of statistics on men’s practices. For example, focused surveys of women’s experience of sexual violence (in the broad sense of the term) 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 matter for both technical improvement and policy and political judgement.

Unities and differences.
There are both clear similarities between the ten nations and clear differences, in terms of the extent of egalitarianism, in relation to gender and more generally; the form of rapid economic growth or downturn; the experience of post-socialist transformation; the development of a strong women’s movement and gender politics. However, these data on men’s practices also reveal the pervasive and massive negative impact of patriarchal relations of power across all sectors of society. The importance of the ongoing challenge to these gendered power relations cannot be over-emphasised. There is a neglect of attention to men in powerful positions and to analyses of men’s broad relations to power, both in themselves and as contexts to the four themes. Unities and differences between men need to be highlighted – both between countries and amongst men within each country. There are, for example, differences between men in the same country, such as between men in the former West German and the former East Germany, and also within one man or groups of men.

Recent structural changes and constructions of men.
Analyses of the social problem of men should take into account that many of the countries have experienced recent major socio-economic changes. This applies especially to the transitional nations, though one should not underestimate the scale of change elsewhere, such as economic boom (Ireland) and recovery from recession (Finland). There is also the impact of more general restructurings of economy and society throughout all the countries reviewed. In the case of the transitional nations the political and economic changes were often viewed as positive compared with the Soviet experience. They also often brought social and human problems. While there is no 100% concordance between economic and social change, there is often a clear relation, for instance, a weakening of the primary sector leading to social and geographical mobility.

In the transitional nations people never expected economic freedom would be associated with a decrease in population and birth rate, high criminality, drugs, and diseases such as tuberculosis. During the transition period there is often a negative relation between economy and welfare. These changes have implications for the social construction of men. In the Russian Federation there has been the recent appearance of “victimisation theory” to explain men’s behaviour, according to which men are passive victims of their biological nature and structural (cultural) circumstances. Men are portrayed as victims rather than “actively functioning” social agents, with the policy implications that follow from this. The various national and transnational restructurings throughout all the countries raise complex empirical and theoretical issues around the analysis and reconceptualisation of patriarchy and patriarchal social relations. These include their reconstitution, both as reinforcements of existing social relations and as new forms of social relations. New forms of gendering and gendered contradictions may thus be developing, with, through and for men’s practices.

Interconnections, power and social exclusion.
There are strong interconnections between the four focus areas. This applies to both men’s power and domination in each theme area, and between some men’s unemployment, social exclusion and ill health. Social exclusion applies to and intersects with all three other themes: home and work, violences, health. Patterns of men’s violence also interconnect with all the themes to some extent but also cut across social divisions. Statistics are mainly focused on ‘dyadic’ analysis, for example, poverty and men/women, or poverty and ethnicity. Developing ‘triadic’ statistical surveys and analyses of, say, poverty, gender and ethnicity is much rarer, and an altogether more complex task.

Contact

Keith PRINGLE
Tel.: +44-191-5153238
Fax: +44-191-515-2229
E-mail
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