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Theoretical Considerations in Cross-National Employment Research

Jacqueline O'Reilly
Sociological Research Online 1 (1) 2

Keywords: Convergence and Divergence, Cross- National Employment Research, Employment Systems, Gender, Gender Order, Patriarchy
Abstract: This article critically reviews a range of theoretical approaches to cross-national employment research in terms of universal, culturalist and intermediary perspectives. These approaches have difficulty accounting for change and the co-existence of similarity and diversity, as well as being 'gender blind'. Debates on the welfare state or women's employment have shown more interest in gender although this tends to become an optional variable in the cross-national comparison, or where there have been attempts to make it more central, the meaning of cross-national differences becomes blurred and confused. It is argued that an employment-systems approach, coupled with the gender order perspective, can provide a useful framework of analysis which enables us to identify how comparable pressures for change have generated specific interest coalitions; these coalitions resolve conflicts by agreeing on a particular gender compromise.

In One Ear and Out the Other: Unmasking Masculinities in the Caribbean Classroom

Jose Parry
Sociological Research Online 1 (2) 2

Keywords: Caribbean Education; Gender; Gender identity; Masculinities; Secondary Education
Abstract: Derived from qualitative data collected for a research project based at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, this paper explores classroom gendered responses of High School students in Jamaica, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The account shows how teachers interpret gendered responses as confirmation of natural and necessary differences between male and female pupils. It is these perceived differences which they use to justify the case for single sex education, particularly for males. Conversely the paper argues that male gendered responses are informed by cultural expectations which translate into pedagogical relationships. These expectations reflect a version of masculinity (emerging from the historical experiences of white patriarchal chattel slavery in the West Indies) which equates education with the female side of a male/female dichotomy. The paper explores ways in which schools encourage this version of 'masculinity' at the same time as rendering it educationally inappropriate. In doing so the paper addresses issues which have been raised about male educational failure in recent British research.

'What Are They Doing? Dilemmas in Analyzing Bibliographic Searching: Cultural and Technical Networks in Academic Life'

Matthew David and David Zeitlyn
Sociological Research Online 1 (4) 2

Keywords: Bibliographic Databases; BIDS; Computing; Ethnography; Ethnomethodology; Higher Education; Human Computer Interaction; Information; Knowledge; Library
Abstract: This paper presents provisional results from research into the uses and usefulness of electronic bibliographic databases in academic contexts. The research has been carried out as part of a British Library funded research project using ethnographic, focus group and conversation analytic techniques. Here we address the question: What can different varieties of ethnography and discourse analysis contribute to our understanding of organizational and institutional settings? Online and distributed bibliographic services (such as BIDS - Bath Information Data Services- and locally networked CD-ROMs) have now been available for some years in most universities and are thought to be a positive development. Many questions arise; some of which we hope may be answered by our results: What are they being used for? How are they being used? Are they as useful as central and local providers believe? Why do some researchers not use them? The research discussed here is based upon ethnographic interviews with 93 academics, researchers and postgraduates, ongoing observation as well as four focus group interviews with members of three departments (from different faculties) and with library staff at the University of Kent. We shall examine the cultural construction and negotiation of order and self-evidence. It is by the construction of cultural networks in which routine modes of questioning and criteria of relevance achieve the status of self- evidence that normal academic research communities establish themselves. Nevertheless the failure of this self-evidence to sustain itself sheds light on what ethnomethodologists find most interesting in any institutionalized discourse; its contingent dependence upon negotiations over interpretation and meaning.

What Are They Doing? Dilemmas in Analyzing Bibliographic Searching: Cultural and Technical Networks in Academic Life

Matthew David and David Zeitlyn
Sociological Research Online 1 (4) 2

Keywords: Bibliographic Databases; BIDS; Computing; Ethnography; Ethnomethodology; Higher Education; Human Computer Interaction; Information; Knowledge; Library
Abstract: This paper presents provisional results from research into the uses and usefulness of electronic bibliographic databases in academic contexts. The research has been carried out as part of a British Library funded research project using ethnographic, focus group and conversation analytic techniques. Here we address the question: What can different varieties of ethnography and discourse analysis contribute to our understanding of organizational and institutional settings? Online and distributed bibliographic services (such as BIDS - Bath Information Data Services- and locally networked CD-ROMs) have now been available for some years in most universities and are thought to be a positive development. Many questions arise; some of which we hope may be answered by our results: What are they being used for? How are they being used? Are they as useful as central and local providers believe? Why do some researchers not use them? The research discussed here is based upon ethnographic interviews with 93 academics, researchers and postgraduates, ongoing observation as well as four focus group interviews with members of three departments (from different faculties) and with library staff at the University of Kent. We shall examine the cultural construction and negotiation of order and self-evidence. It is by the construction of cultural networks in which routine modes of questioning and criteria of relevance achieve the status of self- evidence that normal academic research communities establish themselves. Nevertheless the failure of this self-evidence to sustain itself sheds light on what ethnomethodologists find most interesting in any institutionalized discourse; its contingent dependence upon negotiations over interpretation and meaning.

Reflections on Interviewing Women MPs

Nirmal Puwar
Sociological Research Online 2 (1) 4

Keywords: Access; Elite Studies; Gender Studies; Interviewing; Power; Rapport; Women MPs
Abstract: This paper reflects on the recent experience of interviewing women MPs. The research process is analyzed in terms of the micro-politics of the relationship between the researcher and the researched. Relevant methodological debates from two areas of sociology which are rarely brought together have been incorporated. Elite Studies and Gender Studies. Both of these fields have discussed the politics of space within the process of interviewing. However, the research experience of interviewing female MPs does not neatly fit in with the descriptions of interviewing to be found in either of these fields. This paper will discuss how the experience meets, criss-crosses and contradicts research reflections that are to be found in both of the above fields. So at times my experience echoed Ann Oakley's description of interviewing women as a cosy, friendly and sisterly exchange of information (Oakley, 1982: p. 55). Whilst at other times I could relate to Stephen Ball's description of interviews with MPs as '...events of struggle, as a complex interplay of dominance/resistance and chaos/freedom.' (Ball, 1994: p. 113). Often the same interview shifted between these two types of scenarios. After a short introduction to the debates on space and power within Elite Studies and Gender Studies this paper will go on to detail some of the complexities of interviewing women MPs for a feminist project.

Focus Group Data and Qualitative Analysis Programs: Coding the Moving Picture as Well as the Snapshots

Catterall and Maclaren
Sociological Research Online 2 (1) 6

Keywords: Code and Retrieve; Computer Software; Focus Groups; Group Interaction; Qualitative Research
Abstract: Most qualitative data analysis programs include a code and retrieve function. We argue that on-screen coding and the retrieval of coded segments, or snapshots, can result in researchers missing important process elements in focus group data, the moving picture. We review the literature on the analysis of focus group data and conclude that the focus group is not simply a data gathering technique where data collected are analyzed for their specific content such as all text relating to a particular theme. Important and potentially insightful communication and learning processes occur in focus groups as a result of participant interaction. These processes in the data can only be identified by several readings of the whole transcript and tracing an individual's text in the context of other participants' text; this is difficult to effect on-screen. Thus, we recommend that transcripts are coded on-screen for content and off-screen for process.

Organisation Man - Women and Organisational Culture

Grant Coates
Sociological Research Online 2 (3) 7

Keywords: Femininity; Gender; Management; Organisational Culture; Performance Appraisal; Sexuality; Women
Abstract: Four decades ago, Whyte (1956), described how a new human expression had become universally evident. This was the notion of the 'Organisation Man', an early corporate culture characterised by the middle ranks of managers in large organisations, who were subject to a 'social ethic'. Under the original conception gender was not an issue. However, in a contemporary view of human resource management (HRM) and corporate culture, it has become crucial to understanding both notions of competitive advantage, and the thesis and influence of commitment in the literature and the workplace. This article deals with some issues of women and the organisation man/corporate culture thesis. Unlike many studies (e.g. Fletcher et al, 1993), there is a need to make a distinction between women and men concerning their perceptions and roles. A need to clarify the changes that have taken place in relation to the corporate culture thesis. The analysis in this paper is based on initial research material. It deals with the above issues in relation to gender in contemporary society, asking as it does, if the notion of corporate culture has changed to one where both men and women are implicated in the project at a full, emotional level.

Gender Matters? Three Cohorts of Women Talking About Role Reversal

Jane Pilcher
Sociological Research Online 3 (1) 10

Keywords: Cohort, Gender Issues, Role Reversal, Qualitative Research, Vocabularies
Abstract: Cohort is an important predictor of gender-role attitudes, as a number of surveys have shown. In this article, I undertake a comparison between cohorts of women on the issue of role reversal, with a primary focus on the qualitative differences in what was said and by whom, rather than in how many said what. It is my argument that a qualitative analysis is revealing of the way in which cohort acts to influence the very language used to report 'agreement' or 'disagreement' on matters of gender. Via an analysis of responses to an interview question on role reversal, it is shown that historical location via cohort operates to make permissible and/or available, some ways of talking rather than others. Consequently, on the issue of role reversal, gender featured as a more relevant category in the talk of the oldest cohort than in the talk of the younger cohorts.

More Varieties Than Heinz

W Cealey Harrison
Sociological Research Online 3 (1) 8

Keywords: Category; Emancipatory; Gender; Knowledge; Power; Research; Social Discourse
Abstract: This paper is a contribution to a long standing debate over the nature of research and the relations between knowledge and power recently instantiated in exchanges over the criticisms of Hammersley (Hammersley, 1992, 1995, 1997, Hammersley & Gomm, 1997a and 1997b, Gelsthorpe, 1992; Ramazanoglu, 1992; Romm, 1997, Temple, 1997, Williams, 1993). It takes as its starting point Beth Humphries' recent critical commentary on Hammersley and emancipatory research, and her attempt to 'go beyond ourselves' (Humphries, 1997). It argues that the logical endpoint of arguments that suggest the continuous salience of the social divisions commonly found in the current sociological lexicon is a bewildering impossibility and that they should not be taken as guidelines for research practice. It clarifies this critique in relation to 'gender'. It further argues that Humphries's position, despite her apparent sympathy for post-structuralism, retains much from earlier structuralist positions, which undermines the basis of her attempt to develop a position beyond the constraints of current emancipatory research.

The Baby and the Bath Water: Hammersley, Cealey Harrison and Hood-Williams and the Emancipatory Research Debate

Cealey Harrison and Hood-Williams
Sociological Research Online 3 (1) 9

Keywords: Category; Emancipatory; Gender; Knowledge; Power; Research; Social Discourse
Abstract: This paper is a contribution to a long standing debate over the nature of research and the relations between knowledge and power recently instantiated in exchanges over the criticisms of Hammersley (Hammersley, 1992, 1995, 1997, Hammersley & Gomm, 1997a and 1997b, Gelsthorpe, 1992; Ramazanoglu, 1992; Romm, 1997, Temple, 1997, Williams, 1993). It takes as its starting point Beth Humphries' recent critical commentary on Hammersley and emancipatory research, and her attempt to 'go beyond ourselves' (Humphries, 1997). It argues that the logical endpoint of arguments that suggest the continuous salience of the social divisions commonly found in the current sociological lexicon is a bewildering impossibility and that they should not be taken as guidelines for research practice. It clarifies this critique in relation to 'gender'. It further argues that Humphries's position, despite her apparent sympathy for post-structuralism, retains much from earlier structuralist positions, which undermines the basis of her attempt to develop a position beyond the constraints of current emancipatory research.

The Revolution and the Virgin Mary: Popular Religion and Social Change in Nicaragua

Stephanie Judith Linkogle
Sociological Research Online 3 (2) 8

Keywords: Gender; La PuríSima; Nicaragua; Nicaraguan Revolution; Popular Religion; Sandinistas; Social Change; Social Transformation; Virgin Mary
Abstract: This article is concerned with analysing the role of popular religion in social transformation in Nicaragua from 1979 to the present, focusing in particular on popular religious practices, as spaces in which gender, political and religious identities are shaped and contested. It explores the elements of Nicaraguan popular religion that were constitutive of a religious and often gendered 'common sense' which fostered identification with specific political projects. My aim is two-fold. Firstly, I am concerned to examine some general issues around popular religion in Latin America and its relationship to the practice and pronouncements of the Catholic church. To this end, I begin my analysis of popular religion in Nicaragua with an exploration of some of the general themes which dominate considerations of popular culture and popular religion. I next examine how the issue of popular Catholicism has been taken up both by the 'official' church, particularly in the wake of Vatican II, and by liberation theologians. This discussion leads to a more specific focus on popular religion in Latin America. Secondly, I explore 'Marianism' and the Nicaraguan popular religious festival La Purísima. Here I focus on the competing gender discourses which are worked through different representations of 'the Virgin Mary'. These competing discourses are often also linked to different versions of an 'ideal' society. Finally the article concludes by outlining how an analysis of popular religious practices can inform a sociological understanding of contradictory processes of social change.

How Gender and Ethnicity Intersect: the Significance of Education, Employment and Marital Status

Kalwant Bhopal
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 6

Keywords: Education; Employment; Ethnicity; Gender; Marital Status; South Asian Women
Abstract: This paper examines Labour Force Survey (LFS) statistics on economic activity, highest educational qualification, marital status and ethnicity. The paper will specifically explore comparisons within South Asian groups and between other ethnic groups (Afro-Caribbean and white), to investigate whether marriage has a differential impact for different ethnic groups, and if there have been any changes over time (1984-1994). The LFS data indicates that marital status has a differential impact on economic activity and education for different ethnic groups. When controlling for age (25-30), martial status has more impact on Indian and Pakistani/Bangladeshi groups, than it does for Afro- Caribbean and white groups. There are differences between ethnic groups and there are also differences within the South Asian category. Rapid social change is taking place for the 25-30 age cohort, where some South Asian women are becoming highly educated and entering professional occupations. This finding supports recent research carried out on South Asian women in East London (Bhopal, 1997).

The Interaction of Gender, Class and Place in Women's Experience: a Discussion Based in Focus Group Research

Gill Callaghan
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 8

Keywords: Class; Culture; Gender; Locality; Place
Abstract: There has been considerable debate about the relative significance of class and gender as factors structuring women's lives. This article reports focus group research which reflects upon that relationship. It argues that we must also understand the significance of place if we are to make sense of the ways in which women's domestic and working lives are shaped and their action in response to structural change. The research is situated in an old industrial city which has experienced very fundamental processes of restructuring. Changes in the nature of work, the move from full to part time, from permanent, skilled manual to casual semi and unskilled work has been reflected in the gendered restructuring of the workforce and a considerable rise in male unemployment. The article reports focus group work with women at mother and toddler groups. These groups were important as a way of gaining access to women who were at a particular point in the lifestage when the dominant concerns might be expected to be domestic ones. Mother and toddler groups are also locality based allowing the significance of place in people's discussions to be understood. The groups discussed experiences of work and domestic relations which expressed identifications and differences based in class, gender and place. While the effects of restructuring were universally recognised as bringing change, women identified differences in the nature and pace of change based on the interaction of structural forces.

Gender Differences at Work: International Variations in Occupational Segregation

Jennifer Jarman, Robert M Blackburn, Bradley Brooks and Esther Dermott
Sociological Research Online 4 (1) jarman

Keywords: Census/Survey Data; Cross-National Trends; Employment; Employment Patterns; Gender Inequality; Methodology; Occupations; Social Division of Labour; Sociology; Work
Abstract: Despite the prominence of discussions of gender segregation in explanations of labour market inequalities, there have been relatively few cross-national studies due to a lack of suitably detailed data. A recent ILO initiative obtained suitable data for cross-national analysis of 38 countries, with a much greater number of occupational categories than has usually been available. This paper reports findings from the analysis of these data. The problems and potential of using such data are discussed and a standardisation is introduced to control for the effects of the number of occupations in the segregation measure. There are important differences in the level of segregation in different countries. The highly segregated countries are to be found in Western Europe, and in particular Scandinavia. Several Arab countries also have high levels of segregation. An argument is made suggesting that the context and meaning of segregation patterns may be quite different from what might be inferred from single country studies.

Role as an Interactional Device and Resource in Multidisciplinary Team Meetings

William Housley
Sociological Research Online 4 (3) housley

Keywords: Category; Conversation Analysis; Device; Ethnomethodology; Interaction; Local Organisation.; Membership Categorisation Analysis; Predicate; Role; Sequence
Abstract: During the course of this paper the approaches of Conversation Analysis and Membership Categorisation Analysis are used to investigate and explore team members talk within multidisciplinary social/care team meetings. The paper explores the situated character of role within team meetings and considers the various methods through which team member roles are accomplished, negotiated, contested and used as a resource in the everyday business of making decisions, exchanging information and allocating work within multidisciplinary social/care team meetings. Consequently, traditional conceptualisations of role are respecified in terms of situated action.

Fitness Gyms and the Local Organization of Experience

Roberta Sassatelli
Sociological Research Online 4 (3) sassatelli

Keywords: Body Projects; Fitness; Interaction; Involvement; Leisure; Pleasure.
Abstract: One of the peculiarities of fitness gyms is the succession of people who try and follow a training programme and are not able to stick to it. Based on ethnographic research I try to account for this phenomenon. For regular participants, fitness training is not only important for the kind of body it will hopefully produce in the long run, but also for how it is lived in the present. I will try to show that the way gyms are locally organized - spatiality and interaction rules during training - is as important for exercise adherence as the culturally shaped ideals which sustain fitness culture. In particular, gyms need to provide not only for the substantial body objectives pursued by clients but also for their expressive demands. They need to offer not only competent trainers, but also training spaces where clients may feel secure enjoying a measure of discretion and sober informality. Still, the correct attitude towards fitness work-out is not a passive lack of desire. Fitness work-out asks for the demonstration of a particular kind of desire: each client can and must learn to concentrate only on him or herself in the attempt to improve his or her own exercise performance. Elaborating on my fieldwork, I propose that the more participants in fitness measure themselves against each other and a fantasized body ideal the less will be their capacity to continue attending the gym regularly. The more the desired objectives are perceived as vital, the more participants will feel inadequate, and the more difficult will be for them to concentrate on performing each and all movements and, consequently, to construct and continue a fitness programme. The possibility of filtering body ideals while pursuing an activity which is aimed at their achievement is decisive in protecting individuals from the dangerous exposure of their inadequacies. I conclude on the nature, importance and consequences of this paradoxical construction of experience.

Institutional Racism, Power and Accountability

Floya Anthias
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) anthias

Keywords: Accountability; Class; Gender; Institutional Racism; Masculinity; Power
Abstract: In this article, I will focus on institutional racism and discuss the problems with the idea of 'unwitting racism' found in the report. I will argue that there are a number of conceptual confusions in the report. It is necessary to disassociate the unintentional effects of procedures, from procedures that relate to the exercise of judgements and agency. The pervasiveness of institutional power makes accountability one of the most vital issues raised by the report, which links to the issue of power. In addition, the article argues that it is important to look at the gendered nature of racims and particularly at the role of masculinity.

Consciousness in Transition: A Case Study of Social Identity Formation in KwaZulu-Natal Study Description and Methodology

T Marcus and Desireé Manicom
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) marcus

Keywords: Children; Class; Consciousness; Describe; Gender; Methodology; Race; Rationale; School
Abstract: The aim of this article is to describe the Class Race and Gender (CRG) Research Programme. The CRG research programme aims to explore the development of consciousness in South Africa, to understand how we come to be the black and white, rural and urban, rich and poor and men and women who make up our stratified and differentiated society and to identify and assess the impact of changes over time. This complex problem is being investigated through a study of class, race and gender identity formation in the first generation of children entering the new, compulsory education system. This article specifically tries to document the research process; its methodology and the instruments which were used and developed in order to engage with the issues under investigation. The article also tries to explain the rationale informing the choice of the sample and methods and describes how these research methods were implemented. Research with people is always interactive and reflexive, even if the researchers do not concern themselves with what the research might contribute to respondents. Yet, in questions there are ideas and information which people think about and learn from. Research is or can be a learning process for respondents. For respondents (and researchers) there is a continual tension between the limits of research (finding out) and the possibilities of intervention (acting out).

Women in Low Status Part-time Jobs: A Class and Gender Analysis

Tracey Warren
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) warren

Keywords: Class; Diversity; Gender; Part-Time Employment
Abstract: Why, given all the problems associated with part-time employment in Britain, do women work part-time at all? Does the answer to this question lie in gender-based explanations which focus on women's caring responsibilities? This paper addresses these issues by focusing on the relative experiences of the largest group of part-timers, women working in low status occupations. It is concluded that a gender-informed analysis of women's part-time employment is clearly vital, but an awareness of further dimensions of social inequality is required if we are to understand diversity amongst part-timers. Relative to full-timers, part-timers are similar in their life-cycle positions, their marital status and motherhood status. However, incorporating a class analysis shows that part-timers in lower status jobs stand apart in that they are disproportionately likely to have been brought up in working class households and, as adults, they are more likely to be living in very low waged households with partners who are also in low paid manual occupations. It is concluded that women go into the lowest status part-time jobs in specific social contexts and, as a result, we cannot lump together into one unified group, women working part-time in manual and higher status occupations, and then talk sensibly about part-time work and its impact on women. It is essential to examine the interaction of gender and class inequalities to better understand these women's working lives.

Changing Connectivity: A Future History of Y2.03K

Barry Wellman
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) wellman

Keywords: Class; Diversity; Gender; Part-Time Employment
Abstract: Why, given all the problems associated with part-time employment in Britain, do women work part-time at all? Does the answer to this question lie in gender-based explanations which focus on women's caring responsibilities? This paper addresses these issues by focusing on the relative experiences of the largest group of part-timers, women working in low status occupations. It is concluded that a gender-informed analysis of women's part-time employment is clearly vital, but an awareness of further dimensions of social inequality is required if we are to understand diversity amongst part-timers. Relative to full-timers, part-timers are similar in their life-cycle positions, their marital status and motherhood status. However, incorporating a class analysis shows that part-timers in lower status jobs stand apart in that they are disproportionately likely to have been brought up in working class households and, as adults, they are more likely to be living in very low waged households with partners who are also in low paid manual occupations. It is concluded that women go into the lowest status part-time jobs in specific social contexts and, as a result, we cannot lump together into one unified group, women working part-time in manual and higher status occupations, and then talk sensibly about part-time work and its impact on women. It is essential to examine the interaction of gender and class inequalities to better understand these women's working lives.

Surviving through Substance Use: The Role of Substances in the Lives of Women who Appear before the Courts

Emma Wincup
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) wincup

Keywords: Agency; Gender; Structure; Substance Use; Women's Lives
Abstract: Drawing upon qualitative data gathered through fieldwork in three bail hostels, this paper outlines the role of substance use (illegal drugs, alcohol, prescribed medication and food) in the lives of women awaiting trial. Their use of substance is explored within the context of the multiple and complex problems which shaped their lives. It is argued that women's use of substances can be viewed as a active strategy to achieve personal and social satisfaction, to cope with stresses and problem experienced and to exert some degree of control over their lives. Whilst seemingly beneficial for the women in the short-term, ultimately substance use for this group of women can be seen as counter-productive and self-destructive; increasing the control of others (health care, social work and criminal justice professionals) over their lives, leading to social problems and damaging their emotional and physical well-being.

Reproductive Regimes: Changing Relations of Inter-dependence and Fertility Change

Sarah Irwin
Sociological Research Online 5 (1) irwin

Keywords: Childlessness.; Demographic Transition; Family Formation; Fertility; Gender; Generation; Inter-dependence; Reproductive Regime
Abstract: Within sociological and demographic research many argue that recent demographic transformations can be explained, at least in part, by a growth in individualism. Such approaches, with their emphasis on growing individual autonomy, offer a model of human action in which the social recedes from analysis. This paper offers an alternative framework for analysing processes shaping demographic change, taking as a particular focus aspects of changing patterns of fertility in the UK. Interpretations of the fertility decline at the turn of the twentieth century emphasise the importance of changing patterns of inter-dependence across generations and between women and men. It is argued that in parallel, although to a lesser degree, recent decades have manifest a change in the social positioning of these groups. Change in the reproductive regime is offered as a concept for denoting this restructuring of inter-dependencies. We are witnessing a reconfiguration of social ties and not their displacement. It is as an integral part of such changes that developments in fertility are best interrogated.

What Difference does it Make? Women's Pop Cultural Production and Consumption in Manchester

Nicola Richards and Katie Milestone
Sociological Research Online 5 (1) richards

Keywords: Cultural Consumption/production; Cultural Industries; Employment; Femininity; Gender; Masculinity; Popular Music; Working Practices
Abstract: This paper explores the experiences of women in small cultural businesses and is based upon interviews with women working in a range of contexts in Manchester's popular music sector. The research seeks to promote wider consideration of women's roles in cultural production and consumption. We argue that it is necessary that experiences of production and consumption be understood as inter-related processes. Each part of this process is imbued with particular gender characteristics that can serve to reinforce existing patterns and hierarchies. We explore the ways in which female leisure and consumption patterns have been marginalised and how this in turn shapes cultural production. This process influences career choices but it is also reinforced through the integration of consumption into the cultural workplace. Practices often associated with the sector, such as the blurring of work and leisure and 'networking', appear to be understood and operated in significantly different ways by women. As cultural industries such as popular music are predicated upon the colonisation of urban space we explore the use of the city and the particular character of Manchester's music scene. We conclude that, despite the existence of highly contingent and individualised identities, significant gender power relations remain evident. These are particularly clear in discussion of the performative and sexualised aspects of the job.

'Superbrides': Wedding Consumer Culture and the Construction of Bridal Identity

Sharon Boden
Sociological Research Online 6 (1) boden

Keywords: Bridal Magazines; Consumption; Emotion.; Gender; Reason; Romanticism; Weddings
Abstract: This paper examines the role of the media in articulating and sustaining the tension between romance, fantasy and reason as key dimensions of wedding consumption. Two types of media are analysed as evidence of the development of a popular wedding consumer culture in Britain. First, I cite examples of the coverage of celebrity and unconventional weddings in the popular presses to highlight the current media emphasis upon the wedding as a spectacular, within-reach consumer fantasy. I then provide a more sustained analysis of six British bridal magazines, part of the ideological output of the contemporary wedding industry, which do not exist in a vacuum from those other media sites transmitting wedding imagery. In doing so, I deconstruct the recently formed consumer identity of the 'superbride' to reveal two underpinning aspects of her personality: the rational 'project manager' existing alongside the emotional 'childish fantasiser'. This leads me later in this paper into a more general discussion about the roles of reason and emotion, rationality and romance in wedding consumption.

Categorisation, Narrative and Devolution in Wales

William Housley and Richard Fitzgerald
Sociological Research Online 6 (2) housley

Keywords: Categorization; Devolution; Identity; Interaction; Narrative; Wales
Abstract: Within this paper we examine the use of extended story turns, within the accomplished context of a radio news debate, that display various accounts of national identity in relation to a proposal for devolved democratic institutions within the United Kingdom. In this sense, they display a 'world view'. These various positions are displayed through the use of various categories, inferences and connections in order to lend support to and promote positions of For and Against the proposal of the establishment of a devolved democratic assembly for Wales. In this sense the topics of national identity and political re-organisation are omni-relevant topics (Sacks 1992). However, our particular focus and interest is upon the various detailed ways such positions routinely rely on methods of categorisation and moral assessment in their construction, configuration and promotion of arguments. Furthermore, the analysis of such category work contributes to our understanding of the moral organisation of Welsh identity in relation to devolved forms of political organisation and representation.

Constructing the Identities of 'Responsible Mothers, Invisible Men' in Child Protection Practice

Heather D'Cruz
Sociological Research Online 7 (1) dcruz

Keywords: Child Maltreatment; Child Protection; Gender And Child Maltreatment; Perpetrators; Professional Knowledge; Reflexivity; Responsibility For Maltreatment; Social Construction
Abstract: Social constructionism offers valuable insights into the study of social problems for example, poverty, homelessness, crime and delinquency, including how social phenomena 'become' social problems, through social processes of interaction and interpretation. The social construction of child maltreatment has recently emerged as a site of scholarly inquiry and critique. This paper explores through three case studies how 'responsibility for child maltreatment' is constructed in child protection practice, with a specific focus on how 'responsibility' may also be gendered. In particular, how is gender associated with responsibility, such that the identity- pair, 'responsible mothers, invisible men', is a highly likely outcome as claimed in feminist literature? What other assumptions about 'identities of risk' or 'dangerousness' articulate with patriarchy and influence how responsibility is constructed? The case studies explore normally invisible processes by which social categories become 'fact', 'knowledge' and 'truth'. Furthermore, the social construction of 'responsibility for child maltreatment' is extended by a reflexive analysis of my own constructionist practices, as researcher/writer in claims making. The analysis offers an insight into the dynamic and dialectical relationship between professional and organisational knowledge and practice, allowing for a critique of knowledge itself, the basis for the claims made and possible alternative ways of knowing.

Royal Ageing: The Queen Mother and Queen Victoria

Mike Hepworth
Sociological Research Online 7 (1) hepworth

Keywords: Emotions; Gender; Images Of Ageing; Positive Ageing; Royal Family
Abstract: This paper is a reflection on the contribution of the image of the Queen Mother to the cultural construction of role models of positive ageing. The interest lies in the Queen Mother's performance in public of her roles as woman and royal personage particularly as she grew older. It is suggested that cultural analysis of the icon of the Queen Mother as a blend of gender and power suggests certain significant parallels with the imagery cultivated around the career of Queen Victoria in the later years of her life.

The Political Economy of Diversity: Diversity Programs in Fortune 500 Companies

John Ryan, James Hawdon and Allison Branick
Sociological Research Online 7 (1) ryan

Keywords: Affirmative Action; Corporations; Employment; Ethnicity; Gender; Policy; Race
Abstract: Using data from a 1998 SHRM survey, this study examines the prevalence and nature of diversity initiatives in Fortune 500 companies. The rhetoric of diversity in industry suggests that a diverse workforce is good for business. Diversity is typically defined in terms of such demographic factors as race, age, gender, ethnic background, and, to a lessor extent, sexual orientation. Our analysis shows that most Fortune 500 companies have some diversity initiatives, but that these initiatives are disproportionately aimed at certain minority groups. Thus, there appears to be a political economy of diversity in which some categories of diversity are valued over others. We place this analysis within the larger context of a changing economic, occupational and political factors affecting the diversity movement.

Attacking the Cultural Turn: Misrepresentations of the Service Encounter

Steve Taylor
Sociological Research Online 7 (1) taylor

Keywords: Employment; Service Work; Service Encounter; Cultural Turn; Structural Dynamics; Subjectivity; Gendered Emotional Labour; Class Relations; Representation
Abstract: Service work is often (mis)represented within western sociology through hyperbolic language, as its increasing incidence and changing character is seen as symptomatic of profound social change. This paper argues that many recent empirical investigations into, and the dominant representations of, the service encounter (employment involving employee-customer interaction which is represented as a particularly 'new' form of work) exaggerate its novelty as 'cultural' work. Through a critical analysis of some recent empirical accounts of the service encounter and drawing upon one example from the author's own ethnographic research into service encounters within north-eastern England, it is argued that the dominant representations over-emphasise the cultural, and underplay both the economic and gendered, dynamics of the employment experience. More specifically, we argue that it is the active combination of 'the economic' and 'the cultural' - the way in which gendered demands for employees to develop particular norms, values, personalities and identities are embedded within inequitable economic relationships - which can shape the employment experience of service employees. Dominant representations of the service encounter also reject the contemporary relevance of 'traditional' industrial sociological analyses of employment relations. However, given the weak empirical foundations of 'the cultural turn', we argue that this contention cannot be supported. In fact, it is suggested that many 'traditional' industrial sociological analyses precisely examine the interplay between economic, gendered and cultural relations and therefore continue to have relevance for understanding contemporary employment. Finally, our arguments are located within debates about the cultural turn within the wider sociological discipline.

Knowing your Place: Gender and Reflexivity in two Ethnographies

Fiona Gill and Catherine Maclean
Sociological Research Online 7 (2) gill

Keywords: Ethnogaphy; Gender; Identity Of Researchers And Research Context; Reflexivity
Abstract: Female ethnographers often appear to be more aware of their sexual status and its impact on fieldwork and relationships than their male colleagues (Okely 1992: 19, Coffey 1999: 79). Similarly, the behaviour of female fieldworkers is often more closely scrutinised than that of male fieldworkers (Mascarenhas- Keyes 1987: 187), and many female ethnographers' accounts detail gender-specific issues and challenges that arose during their research (e.g. Moreno 1995: 220, Whitehead 1976, Middleton 1986). This paper draws on the authors? experiences in two different rural British communities, conducting research using a combination of methods including participant observation and tape-recorded interviews. Catherine Maclean's research examined migration and social change in 'Beulach', a remote rural parish in the north of Scotland, while Fiona Gill's research focused on issues of identity in 'Bordertown', a small town near the border between Scotland and England. In both cases, while gender was not initially a focus of the research, it became increasingly salient during the fieldwork period. The paper discusses the similarities and differences between the authors' research experiences, and the factors that account for these. The authors' research is set in the wider context of ethnographic community studies. The paper explores the emotional impact of the fieldwork on the authors, and the consequences of this for the research. It concludes that although female researchers have to consider and deal with gender-related research problems not faced by their male colleagues, this also has positive consequences as the experiences of female ethnographers encourage a reflexive and self-aware approach.

'For Better or Worse?': Heterosexuality Reinvented

Jenny Hockey, Victoria Robinson and Angela Meah
Sociological Research Online 7 (2) hockey

Keywords: Continuity/change; Difference; Gender; Heterosexualities; Life-course
Abstract: Based upon a series of focus group discussions carried out in East Yorkshire, this article contributes to debates on both the nature and theorising of heterosexual relationships that have recently been investigated from diverse perspectives. These group discussions represent the launch of the first major empirical study of heterosexuality and ageing that has been undertaken in the UK. In drawing upon preliminary data from these focus groups, our findings reinforce and add to the challenging of a representation of heterosexuality which is both monolithic and inflexible, by exploring accounts of peoples' actual lived experiences. Through this research we begin to generate a theoretical approach which highlights the complexity of these lived realities. We particularly explore the intersections of gender, age, class and family location. In doing so, we pinpoint differences, contradictions, but also continuities, in the ways in which people discuss and comment on their own and other people's perceptions and experiences of heterosexuality.

Moral Discrepancy and Political Discourse: Accountability and the Allocation of Blame in a Political News Interview

William Housley and Richard Fitzgerald
Sociological Research Online 8 (2) housley

Keywords: Accountability; Categorisation; Interaction; Moral Discrepancy; Political News Interview
Abstract: During the course of this article we intend to explore some issues surrounding government policy and actions and the moral organisation of political discourse surrounding the recent enquiry into the BSE crisis and the publication of the Phillips Report in the UK. More specifically, we wish to develop the concept of moral discrepancy and it's use in politically accountable settings, in this case the political interview. The paper, through the use of membership categorisation analysis, explores issues surrounding the social organisation of interview settings, the discursive management of policy decisions and 'bureaucratic mistakes' and the allocation of blame in situated media/political formats. The paper then relates these issues to notions of democracy-in-action, public ethics and the respecification of structure and agency as a members phenomenon.

A Divergence of Views: Attitude change and the religious crisis over homosexuality

Alasdair Crockett and David Voas
Sociological Research Online 8 (4) crockett

Keywords: Attitudes; Christianity; Church Of England; Gender; Generation Generation; Homosexuality; Religion; Secularization
Abstract: British attitudes towards homosexuality have changed with astonishing rapidity over recent decades. Society has managed to assimilate these shifts with relative ease. The Christian churches, however, as repositories of tradition and defenders of inherited values, have been finding it increasingly difficult to adjust to the new environment. The Church of England is internally divided in the face of an external crisis: the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledges that the global Anglican Communion could split over the issue, and the church faces similar pressures domestically. These events raise important questions about how religious institutions come to terms with modernity. The rapidity of social change, the decline in deference to authority, the increase in tolerance of anything that seems a private matter, and the sense that sexuality is fundamental to the free expression of personal identity, all make it difficult for a church to declare that sexual orientation might disqualify one from ministry or even membership.This paper analyses empirical evidence covering two decades from the British Social Attitudes and British Household Panel surveys. It is apparent that no real consensus yet exists on basic issues of sexual morality. Society as a whole is highly polarised over the question of whether same-sex unions are wrong, with significant and increasing divisions between young and old, women and men, and religious and non-religious. Far from being better placed than others to avoid disputes, Christian churches suffer from compounded problems. The attitudes of lay Christians are starkly and increasingly polarised along the dimensions of ideology and religious practice. This gulf presents a particular problem for churches with both liberal and evangelical wings, notably the Church of England.

Consumed with Sleep? Dormant Bodies in Consumer Culture

Simon Williams and Sharon Boden
Sociological Research Online 9 (2) williams

Keywords: Beauty; Consumption; Health; Leisure; Sleep; Work
Abstract: Abstract: This paper takes the neglected sociological matter of sleep and applies the insights contained therein to issues and debates within the sociology of consumption. Sleep, it is argued, is pursued if not consumed in a variety of ways in consumer culture, including its (lifestyle) associations with health and beauty, leisure and pleasure. It is also increasingly recognised if not contracted for in the workplace, construed as the 'ultimate performance enhancer' and the 'cheapest form of stress relief'. These and other insights are located in the context of a burgeoning 'sleep industry' and the consumer identities it spawns: one which is busy capitalising on this dormant third part of our lives through a range of products, from beds to bedding, night-wear to night-cream, pills to pillows. Sleep, it is concluded, is a crucial element of consumption, augmenting existing theoretical and empirical agendas in significant new ways. The broader sociological implications of sleep are also touched upon and addressed, as a stimulus to further research, discussion and debate.

Toys for Boys? Women's Marginalization and Participation As Digital Gamers

Garry Crawford and Victoria K. Gosling
Sociological Research Online 10 (1) crawford

Keywords: Gender, Digital Gaming
Abstract: This paper develops out of ongoing research into the location and use of digital gaming in practices of everyday life. Specifically this paper draws on a questionnaire based survey of just under four hundred undergraduate students and twenty-three follow up interviews. This paper suggests that the women in this research play digital games significantly less than their male counterparts, and suggests that this is largely due to digital games continuing to be viewed, both culturally and by the gaming industry, as belonging to men. However, this paper suggests that for some women video and computer gaming can be an important social activity, and for others mobile telephone based gaming can offer a less restricted and more accessible leisure activity.

Applying Ragin's Crisp and Fuzzy Set QCA to Large Datasets: Social Class and Educational Achievement in the National Child Development Study

Barry Cooper
Sociological Research Online 10 (2) cooper1

Keywords: QCA, Social Class, Educational Attainment, Gender, Fuzzy Sets, Meritocracy.
Abstract: The paper explores the use of Charles Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) in both its crisp and fuzzy set versions in the study of the relations between social class origin, sex, 'ability' and subsequent educational achievement. The work reported is part of a larger ongoing project which is employing QCA to compare these relations within two birth cohorts. Here data are used from the British National Child Development Study, i.e. from children born in 1958. The paper has a methodological focus, bringing out the strengths but also the difficulties that arise when employing QCA with a large dataset of this type. In particular, the problem of calibrating membership in fuzzy sets in a context where detailed case knowledge is not available is illustrated. It is also shown how the use of gradually increasing thresholds with Ragin's fs/QCA software can bring out the relative importance of various factors in accounting for achievement. The QCA-based analysis suggests that the processes of educational attainment can, at best, only be seen as partly falling under a 'meritocratic' description. It is also hoped that this paper will serve as a useful introduction to the potential of QCA for readers not yet familiar with it.

Suicidal Masculinities

Jonathan Scourfield
Sociological Research Online 10 (2) scourfield

Keywords: Suicide, Masculinity, Men, Gender, Crisis, Hegemonic, Subordinated, Mental Health, Autopsy, Qualitative
Abstract: Across the West, suicide rates in young men have been rising for some time. This trend has attracted considerable media attention and is often cited within media discourse as evidence of a 'crisis of masculinity'. The field of suicide research (or suicidology) is dominated by quantitative methodology, and although there has been research attention to the gendered character of suicidal behaviour, studies tend to compare 'men' as a group with 'women' as a group. There is also relatively little consideration within this literature of power relations and the social-political dimension of masculinities. This paper argues the case for a qualitative sociological approach to the study of gendered suicide and begins to outline a framework for understanding the diversity of suicidal masculinities. Connell's theoretical work on masculinities is used to analyse evidence from the suicidology literature. The framework includes consideration of when hegemonic masculinity fails; the subordinated masculinities of gay sexuality and mental illness; and control in intimate relationships.

Coming Home to Love and Class

Paul Johnson and Steph Lawler
Sociological Research Online 10 (3) johnson

Keywords: Class, Distinction, Gender, Intimacy, Heterosexuality, Love, Sexuality
Abstract: This article explores how romantic love, desire, and social class are mutually influencing factors in the formation and enactment of heterosexual intimate relationships. Using qualitative interview data from a study of heterosexuality and love we analyse some of the ways in which social class structures love relationships and, furthermore, how such relationships are a site in which class is 'done' . In particular, we explore a central paradox of the heterosexual love relationship: while heterosexuality relies upon the difference it creates in terms of sex and gender one other form of difference - class difference - is understood to be an obstacle to, if not antithetical to, a 'successful' relationship. Indeed, as we will show, this form of difference, for some people at least, is one that must be guarded and defended against.

Telling Identity Stories: the Routinisation of Racialisation of Irishness

Elaine Moriarty
Sociological Research Online 10 (3) moriarty

Keywords: Ireland, Narrative, Practice, Identity, Race, Immigration, Gender, Urban Legend.
Abstract: During the last decade, the emergence of what has been coined 'the celtic tiger economy', the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland and net immigration following decades of emigration, represent critical moments in Irish history that have opened up the question of identity in Irish public culture. This paper examines the processes involved in mediating who belongs and who doesn't belong in early 21st century Irish society by examining the creation and circulation of an urban legend in Dublin in 2004. I consider how such a story gains legitimacy, bestows meaning and constructs reality, to explore what it says about 21st century Ireland. To develop this argument, I firstly posit identity construction as processual rather than fixed (Hall, 1996), and examine the forms of knowledge through which the story is constituted and elaborated into objects, concepts and theories. Secondly, I use fragments of the story to examine the construction of self/other and us/them dichotomies through the interaction between narrator and listener, and the construction of threatened Irish identities and invading 'non-national' identities. Thirdly, I locate this story in global regimes of representation which are highlighting the paradoxical positioning of the nation state as subject to significant global changes such as population movement but also enabled by such phenomena in the shaping of belonging. In order to examine how these patterns of enacted conduct become routinised in the context of the nation state, I examine the context of the debates around immigration and racism in Ireland, highlighting the remarkable continuities over time in the images and discourses circulating about the Other, particularly migrant women. Ultimately, I argue that a dialectical approach is required to understand the current debate in Ireland around immigration and racism through considering the interrelationships of discourses, narratives and the constitution of identities.

Narratives of the Night: the Use of Audio Diaries in Researching Sleep

Jenny Hislop, Sara Arber, Robert Meadows and Susan Venn
Sociological Research Online 10 (4) hislop

Keywords: Qualitative Methods, Audio Diaries, Narratives, Sleep, Women, Couples, Social Context
Abstract: This article draws on data from two major empirical studies of sleep to examine the use of audio diaries as an approach to researching sleep. Sleep has only recently emerged as a topic of interest to the sociologist, providing a valuable resource through which to examine the roles and relationships and gender inequalities which underpin everyday life. Yet accessing individual experiences of sleep is problematic. Considered a non-conscious activity, sleep takes place in most cases at night within the private domain of the home and is thus generally inaccessible to the social researcher and outside the conscious reality of the sleeper. In exploring the social aspects of sleep, we rely primarily on respondents' interpretations of the sleep period given retrospectively in focus groups and in-depth interviews, distanced from the temporal, spatial and relational dimensions of the sleep event. This article also focuses on the use of audio diaries as a method designed to help bridge the gap between events in real time and retrospective accounts. We examine the narrative structure of audio diaries, discuss the principles and practice of using audio diaries in sleep research, illustrate the contribution of audio diary narratives to an understanding of the social context of sleep, and assess the use of audio diaries in social research. We conclude that, used in conjunction with other methods, audio diaries are an effective method of data collection, particularly for understanding experiences of intimate aspects of everyday life.

Beyond 'Juggling' and 'Flexibility': Classed and Gendered Experiences of Combining Employment and Motherhood

Jo Armstrong
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) armstrong

Keywords: Class, Gender, Women, Employment, Motherhood, Feminism, Bourdieu, Habitus, Life-Course, Qualitative Research.
Abstract: This paper proposes that there is a need to push beyond the popular discourses of 'flexibility' and 'work-life balance'. Developing a feminist-Bourdieuian approach and drawing on three illustrative case studies from my interview research with 27 mothers in the UK, I show the importance of maintaining a focus on class and gender inequalities. In the first part of the paper the concepts of capitals, dependencies and habitus which shaped, and were shaped by, this interview research are discussed. An analysis of three women's accounts of their experiences across work and family life is then used to illustrate that although these women all used terms such as 'flexibility' and 'juggling' in describing their work, the experience of that work was crucially influenced by their histories and current positioning. Tracing each of these women's trajectories from school, attention is focused on the influence of differential access to capitals and relations of dependency in the emergence of their dispositions toward work. Overall, the paper points to the significance of examining the classed and gendered dimensions of women's experiences of employment and motherhood.

Configurations of Care Work: Paid and Unpaid Elder Care in Italy and the Netherlands

Miriam Glucksmann and Dawn Lyon
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) glucksmann

Keywords: Work, Employment, Total Social Organisation of Labour, Care Work, Elder Care, Italy, the Netherlands, Configuration, Gender
Abstract: Most current sociological approaches to work recognise that the same activity may be undertaken within a variety of socio-economic forms - formal or informal, linked with the private market, public state or not-for-profit sectors. This article takes care of the elderly as an exemplary case for probing some of the linkages between paid and unpaid work. We attempt to unravel the interconnections between forms of care work undertaken in different socio-economic conditions in two settings, the Netherlands and Italy. The research is part of a broader programme concerned with differing interconnections and overlaps between work activities. In this article, we are concerned with: 1) how paid and unpaid care work map on to four 'institutional' modes of provision - by the state, family, market, and voluntary sector; and 2) with the configurations that emerge from the combination of different forms of paid and unpaid work undertaken through the different institutions. Despite the centrality of family-based informal care by women in both countries, we argue that the overall configurations of care are in fact quite distinct. In the Netherlands, state-funded care services operate to shape and anchor the centrality of family as the main provider. In this configuration, unpaid familial labour is sustained by voluntary sector state-funded provision. In Italy, by contrast, there is significant recourse to informal market-based services in the form of individual migrant carers, in a context of limited public provision. In this configuration, the state indirectly supports market solutions, sustaining the continuity of family care as an ideal and as a practice.

'Doing What is Right': Researching Intimacy, Work and Family Life in Glasgow, 1945-1960

Sue Innes and Linda McKie
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) innes

Keywords: Families, Child Protection, Gender, Paid Work, Care
Abstract: Understanding discursive shifts over the twentieth century in relation to family roles, paid work and care is essential to any critical review of contemporary family theory and policies. This paper charts aspects of these shifts. An analysis of case records of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (RSSPCC), 1945 to 1960 is presented. Based upon these data we reflect upon the construction of the working-class family in the West of Scotland and draw upon one case study to illustrate issues further. This post-war period was one of rapid social and technological change. It is commonly perceived as a period of segregated gender roles, and in the UK a predominant male-breadwinner family model. The RSSPCC case records suggest that family lives and forms, particularly for those on low incomes, were diverse throughout this period. Although prosecutions for cruelty and neglect are dominant in perceptions of the society, most of its work was in material assistance, advice and surveillance. This latter aspect is considered in this paper.

Sociological Work on Violence: Gender, Theory and Research

Linda McKie
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) mckie

Keywords: Violence, Violation, Gender, Social Theory, Myths
Abstract: The suffering caused by violence is senseless, persistent and demoralizing (Gordimer, 2003). For perpetrators there is the hollowness of holding power over others, a power that illustrates the fragility of their situation (Card, 2002; Mason, 2002). Yet despite the obvious relevance to sociology, violence in everyday and intimate practices has not been a central concern for sociological theory (Hearn, 1998; Ray, 2002). This may reflect the 'taken for grantedness of violence', the hierarchical and gendered nature of sociological work, especially on theory, combined with an earlier marginalization of gender, ethnicity and age. In this paper I draw upon the work of Midgley (2003) and her definition of 'myths' to offer an over-arching analysis of the images and ideas that surround and imbue sociological work on violence. Highlighting the barriers evident in, and recreated through, the sociological analysis of violence, the paper explores the challenges for sociology. A review of the tendency to atomistic approaches in sociological analysis and explanation reaffirms the need for theoretical pluralism in social sciences on the topic of violence (Eagleton, 2003).

The Time Economy of Parenting

Anne Gray
Sociological Research Online 11 (3) gray

Keywords: Fatherhood Gender-Contract Parenting Time-Use Work-Life-Balance
Abstract: This paper explores how the UK Time Use Survey (UKTUS), together with the author's qualitative interviews and focus groups with London parents, can inform current policy debates about childcare and parental employment. It also refers to the international literature about long-term trends in parental childcare time. It addresses four key questions about time use and parenting, which have implications for theorisation of the `gender contract' regarding childcare and for our understanding of the gendered distribution of time between care, work and leisure in two-parent families. How is total parenting time affected by parents' work hours ? How do the long work weeks of British fathers affect their capacity to share childcare with mothers ? Would childcare time rise if work hours were more equally distributed between women and men ? This invokes a discussion of how far childcare is really transferable between parents (or can be delegated to external carers); to what extent is it `work' or a relational activity ?

Diversity in Uniform? - Gender and Sexuality Within the Berlin Police Force

Sonja M. Dudek
Sociological Research Online 12 (1) dudek

Keywords: Diversity, Gender, Sexuality, Police, Organisation
Abstract: This article examines the significance of gender and sexuality within the German uniformed police. For a long time the police was regarded to be the classic domain of men, but since some years the police actively tries to employ more heterogeneous staff. These efforts result in a clear change of personnel: more and more women are working in the police. It is the aim of this article to firstly examine in which historical contexts gender and sexuality have been relevant categories within the police organisation. Secondly gender and sexuality in organisational theory, especially considering criticism of feminist organizational theory on classical concepts are discussed. Thirdly theories on micropolitical negotiations, processes of managing gender and sexuality are introduced and connected to the police. In the following part of this article two interview examples are presented and analysed, in which the significance of sexuality and gender today are discussed by female police officers.

Negotiating 'Normal': the Management of Feminine Identities in Rural Britain

Fiona Gill
Sociological Research Online 12 (1) gill

Keywords: Normal, Identity, Gender, Sexuality, Performance
Abstract: This paper examines the management of feminine identities in a women's rugby team in a rural British community. In so doing, the issue of new, and potentially problematic, forms of femininity are explored, with their attendant social consequences. The team, known as the Jesters, is situated in a social context which is dominantly masculine and heterosexist, with rigidly enforced gender roles. Due to their participation in rugby, a 'man's game', the Jesters are threatened with marginalisation for their apparent failure to conform to, and potential disruption of, established gender norms. This threat is managed through the performance of certain 'inauthentic' feminine identities (hyper-femininity and heterosexuality) on the part of the entire team. It is this 'team identity' which lies at the heart of this paper. This paper therefore examines the group dynamics of identity performance and negotiation. In negotiating 'normal' the Jesters are forced to confront changing gender norms and social contexts within the team itself. This paper also examines the difficulties faced by individuals when their own interests are opposed to the interests of the group of which they are a part. Although largely uncaring about the private lives of team members, the heterosexual members of the Jesters refuse to tolerate the performance of alternative versions of femininity when it may result in the exclusion of the team as a whole. This paper therefore examines the differing interests of heterosexual and lesbian femininities within a potentially marginalised group and some of the coping mechanisms adopted by both groups to develop a coherent team image.

(Trans)Forming Gender: Social Change and Transgender Citizenship

Sally Hines
Sociological Research Online 12 (1) hines

Keywords: Citizenship, Identities, Gender, Gender Diversity, Gender Dysphoria, Gender Recognition Act, Medicalisation, Social Change, Surgery, Transgender
Abstract: This paper aims to contribute to recent sociological debates about gendered identity constructions and formations, and gendered citizenship, by exploring gender transformation through an analysis of new femininities and masculinities as they are variously articulated by transgender women and men. The paper charts the ways in which transgender has emerged as a subject of increasing social and cultural interest in recent years. Shifting attitudes towards transgender people are also evident through recent legislative changes brought by the Gender Recognition Act (2005). These social, cultural and legislative developments reflect the ways in which gender diversity is acquiring visibility in contemporary society, and suggest that gender diverse people themselves are experiencing greater levels of social inclusion. Such developments mark transgender as an important and timely area of sociological study. The paper argues that while the Gender Recognition Act marks a significant shift in socio-legal understandings of 'gender' as distinct from 'sex', it problematically remains tied to a medical perspective of transgender that continues to marginalise practices of gender diversity. The paper thus proposes caution against an assured trajectory of (trans) gender transformation and social change. Rather, normative binary understandings of 'gender' underpin recent social and legislative shifts, giving way to individual and collective tensions around the desirability of assimilation. In turn these issues produce divergent ways of living as 'new' women and men.

Transmuting Gender Binaries: the Theoretical Challenge

Surya Monro
Sociological Research Online 12 (1) monro

Keywords: Transgender, Intersex, Gender, Diversity, Theory, Poststructuralism, Transsexuality, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality
Abstract: This paper provides a cross-cultural account of gender diversity which explores the territory that is opened up when sex, gender, and sexual orientation, binaries are disrupted or displaced. Whilst many people who identify as trans or intersex see themselves as male or female, others identify in ways which destabilize sex/gender and sexual orientation binaries. The paper provides a typology of ways in which sex/gender diversity can be conceptualized, and draws out the implications for theorizing gender. It discusses the contributions made by the new wave of authors working in the field of transgender studies; authors who draw on and inform the sociology of sex and gender, feminisms, and poststructuralist theory. It based on empirical material from research carried out in India and the UK.

Transsexualism in Spain: a Cultural and Legal Perspective

Patrícia Soley-Beltran
Sociological Research Online 12 (1) soley-beltran

Keywords: Gender, Performativity, Sex-Reassignment, Social Policy, Transgenderism, Transsexuality, Spain
Abstract: In this paper I will present an overview of the current legal, social and political situation of transsexual and transgendered people in Spain. The study is based on qualitative data gathered from in-depth interviews with transsexual people, transgendered activists and legal experts in Spain, including some aspects of a cross-cultural comparison between Spain and the UK. The empirical study accounts for the development of social policies related to sex-reassignment and their evolution in the last decade in Spain, as well as for transsexual associations and activism, issues of social exclusion and prostitution. The study on transsexuals consists of qualitative interviews with selected individuals of the transsexual community in Scotland and Catalonia about their life experiences. The analysis of the qualitative data explores the cultural assumptions underlying the legal aspects of sex-reassignment. Amongst other issues, the paper will deal with Spanish juridical procedures for documental reorientation and its potential role as incentive for undergoing sex-reassignment operation, and the performative character of transsexualism as a scientific category and folk gender myths in the shaping of gender. The cross-cultural comparison concerns scientific terminology, funding, cultural and legal aspects of sex-reassignment. The study reveals the performative character of scientific categories, the mobilisation of conflicting discourses in the negotiation of meaning, the circularity and self-referentiality of the terms used both in expert and folk discourse. Moreover, the cross-cultural comparison demonstrates the conventionality of transsexualism as a scientific category and some of the ways in which social institutions act to perpetuate the erasure of gender fluidity.

''Sex Changes'? Paradigm Shifts in 'Sex' and 'Gender' Following the Gender Recognition Act?'

Stephen Whittle and Lewis Turner
Sociological Research Online 12 (1) whittle

Keywords: Transgender; Transsexual; Sex; Gender; Sex Change; Gender Identity; Legal Identities
Abstract: Gender transformations are normatively understood as somatic, based on surgical reassignment, where the sexed body is aligned with the gender identity of the individual through genital surgery – hence the common lexicon 'sex change surgery'. We suggest that the UK Gender Recognition Act 2004 challenges what constitutes a 'sex change' through the Act's definitions and also the conditions within which legal 'recognition' is permitted. The sex/gender distinction, (where sex normatively refers to the sexed body, and gender, to social identity) is demobilised both literally and legally. This paper discusses the history of medico-socio-legal definitions of sex have been developed through decision making processes when courts have been faced with people with gender variance and , in particular, the implications of the Gender Recognition Act for our contemporary legal understanding of sex. We ask, and attempt to answer, has 'sex' changed?

Constructing Meaningful Lives: Biographical Methods in Research on Migrant Women

Umut Erel
Sociological Research Online 12 (4) 5

Keywords: Migration, Gender, Ethnicity, Life-Story, Methodology, Britain, Germany, Structural and Cultural Readings, Subjugated Knowledges
Abstract: The article argues that biographical methods are particularly suited to shift the methodological and theoretical premises of migration research to foreground the agency and subjectivity of migrant women. It is argued that structural and cultural readings can usefully be applied to the self-representations of migrant women. The context of migrant women's self-representations is explored through looking at the story-telling communities they develop and through the expert knowledges of institutions regulating migration. The dichotomisation of unique versus collective modes of life-stories is questioned. Applying the Foucauldian concept of subjugated knowledges, it is argued that migrant women's life-stories hold transformative potential for producing knowledges critical of gendered and ethnocised power relations that research should pay attention to.

Gender Life Course Transitions from the Nuclear Family in England and Wales 1981-2001

Lawrence Ware, Moira Maconachie, Malcolm Williams, Joan Chandler and Brian Dodgeon
Sociological Research Online 12 (4) 6

Keywords: Nuclear Family; Households; Gender; Longitudinal Analysis
Abstract: In recent years there has been much political debate in the popular media about the fate of the nuclear family in the UK. Very little work has been done, using population data, to actually demonstrate the decline, or indeed continuance of this type of household formation. In this paper we use Office for National Statistics (ONS) longitudinal census data, from England and Wales, to explore the formation, dissolution and continuance of the nuclear family household over a twenty year period (1981- 2001). Our findings indicate a continuing importance of this household arrangement, however routes into and trajectories from nuclear family households take different forms for men and women across the life course.

'It's Okay for a Man to Snore': the Influence of Gender on Sleep Disruption in Couples

Susan Venn
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 1

Keywords: Sleep, Snoring, Couples, Stigma, Sentient Activity, Blame
Abstract: Snoring is a common cause of disturbed sleep for both the snorer and their partner. Whilst the physical effects of snoring are well documented as causing excessive daytime sleepiness, decreased effectiveness at work and irritability, it is also important to recognise the impact snoring has on the negotiation of sleep within couple relationships. This article analyses qualitative data from an ESRC funded multi-disciplinary project on couples' sleep based on in-depth audio-tape recorded interviews with 31 couples (aged 20-59) where either one or both partners snore. Additionally, one week's audio sleep diaries were completed and follow up separate in-depth interviews were undertaken with each partner. The gendered nature and implications of snoring are analysed. Results indicate that there is a gendered conception of snoring, which is problematic for women in three ways. First, women who snore are embarrassed and stigmatised by this 'unfeminine' action. Secondly, the embarrassment that women feel about their snoring is compounded by their partners sharing that information outside the privacy of their relationship. Thirdly, by finding excuses for their male partners' snoring, as well as developing strategies to cope with its disruptive effects, most women are prioritising their partners' sleep over their own, and perpetuating their own sleep disruption.

Theorising Sleep Practices and Later Life: Moving to Sheltered Housing

Eileen Fairhurst
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 10

Keywords: Later Life, Re-Analysis, Sheltered Housing, Sleep Practices, Upstairs/downstairs
Abstract: This paper re-analyses data from a study of older people and sheltered housing which combined textual analysis of professional discourse with interviews. There were only two references salient to 'sleep' in that paper and I offered no analytic comment upon them. At that time, then, sleep as a sociologically interesting topic, was, for me a taken for granted matter. It is that taken for grantedness that is examined here. On being invited to contribute to this special issue, I went back to the original data and interrogated it for 'sleep'. I realised that, with this different concern, the texts and interviews contained much more about the 'doing' of sleep in later life than I had appreciated, especially where, when and how sleeping practices occur. Sleeping 'upstairs' or 'downstairs', in a single- or double-bed and on which side of the bed were all matters of relevance when older people were considering a move to sheltered housing. Older people's own sleeping practices are contrasted with those offered in texts produced by architects designing sheltered housing. The paper concludes by considering the methodological implications of re-analysing research materials for emerging sociological topics and by giving pointers to future research on sleep practices in later life.

The Social Significance of Sleep for Older People with Dementia in the Context of Care

Wendy Martin and Helen Bartlett
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 11

Keywords: Sleep, Care, Dementia, Memory, Risk, Vulnerability, Privacy, Time, Space, Surveillance
Abstract: While the social aspects of dementia have been increasingly researched over the past decade, there has been little focus on sleep and its significance to older people with dementia within the context of care. This paper attempts to address this knowledge gap by exploring the experiences of sleep among older people with dementia and the perceptions of family carers and care staff in different care settings. The paper is drawn from a larger research project that explored the empowerment of older people with dementia, and involved 18 in-depth interviews with older people with dementia and 8 focus groups with health and social care staff and family carers. The discourses of the older people with dementia and family carers, emphasised vulnerabilities associated with sleep, thematically represented as: (1) interconnections between health, care, the body and sleep; (2) memory loss and perceptions of sleep, time and place; and (3) a sense of vulnerability around night-time, sleep and safety. The sleep discourses of the older people with dementia and their family carers focused on meanings associated with experiential dimensions of sleep and were closely connected to their social identities and roles. The key concern for the health and social care staff was the organisation of sleep, including: (1) temporal management of sleep and sleep practices, and (2) management of sleep across public/private space: safety, surveillance and privacy. The sleep discourses of the health and social care staff predominately focused on sleep practices and environmental dimensions of sleep. These different perspectives denote varying positions and concerns in relation to sleep between waking conscious actors and dormant bodies, thereby highlighting the social significance of power relations and vulnerabilities within the context of care for older people with dementia.

Power, Ideology and Resources Within Families: a Theoretical Context for Empirical Research on Sleep

Jan Pahl
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 12

Keywords: Sleep, Money, Power, Ideology, Inequality, Resources, Theories
Abstract: The aim of this article is to outline and discuss theoretical approaches to the study of family life and to make suggestions about how these approaches might apply in planning and carrying out empirical research on sleep. It argues that, while theories about power and gender can inform research on sleep, the findings from research on sleep will help to extend and enrich theoretical approaches to family life and the social order. The article is concerned especially with gendered power relations and with 'sharing sleep'. It draws on Morgan's sociological analysis of family life, and on the distinction he makes between the political economy, the moral economy and the emotional economy. It uses research findings on the allocation of money and on domestic violence to examine different theoretical approaches and to consider how these theories might be used in research on sleep. In the past many of the battles which rage within bedrooms were individualised as 'her' or 'his' fault. Applying sociological understanding and theoretical approaches may enable some of these individual and very private troubles to be seen as more general issues, while making a contribution to the new sociology of sleep.

Are Children Getting Enough Sleep? Implications for Parents

Luci Wiggs
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 13

Keywords: Children – Parents – Mothers – Fathers – Sleeplessness -
Abstract: Sleeping is a child's primary activity; by the time an average child goes to school they will have spent more time sleeping than engaging in any other activity, such as playing, eating or interacting socially. Disturbances of sleep (especially sleeplessness) are one of the most frequent child behaviour problems to be reported by parents, affecting about 30% of typically developing children and adolescents. The definition of 'sleeplessness problems' will be considered noting how, with child sleeplessness, the complainant and the sufferer are frequently not the same person (frequently parents are the former and the children the latter), and that this has implications for how we should define and, where appropriate, attempt to 'treat' these problems. Parental perceptions and parental sleep patterns, moreover, may be key in understanding how some child sleeplessness problems are conceptualised, how they might impact on the child and family and the mechanisms by which successful intervention for childhood sleeplessness may result in benefits for families. The author suggests that child sleeplessness might be better theoretically conceptualised as comprising two distinct states with different causes and effects. Firstly, a `biologically-defined sleeplessness` characterised by a child having objectively impaired sleep quantity and/or quality, relative to their biological sleep needs. Secondly, a 'socially-defined sleeplessness' characterised by the child's sleep pattern deviating from a desired sleep pattern. Judgements about what constitutes a 'desired' sleep pattern will be influenced by multiple factors including expectations and culture. Both of these states may exist independently, or co-exist. Both of these states must be considered in order to decide whether or not children are getting enough sleep.

Inequality Within the Family: Cases of Selective Parents in Post-War Hong Kong

Yi-Lee Wong
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 15

Keywords: Birth Order; Education; Family; Gender; Selective Parents; Social Mobility
Abstract: While members of the same family are assumed to share similar mobility chances, this paper seeks to answer the following puzzle: why do only some children of the same family attain a level of education considered to be socially desirable whereas their siblings do not? The essence of an answer lies in the fact that the same parents could play rather dissimilar roles in the education of their different children. Using part of qualitative data collected in Hong Kong between 1996 and 1997, this paper focuses on what selective parents did for their children's education. The data illustrated that in deciding what they would and could do for each of their children's education, parents responded to their children's academic ability, resource availability, and ideology. The educational attainments of children of the same family could be very diverse not merely because of children's different academic performances but because of the deliberate decisions of their parents in formulating strategies for basic survival or for advancement. The same parents could be seen as enhancing the education of their sons and/or younger children at the expense of the education of their daughters and/or elder children. This suggests that mobility is of an interdependent nature and, in turn, leads me to argue that the mobility of members of the same family should be considered together and not in isolation, and to support the stance that the family, rather than an individual, should be the unit of analysis in mobility studies.

A Bed of Roses or a Bed of Thorns? Negotiating the Couple Relationship Through Sleep

Jenny Hislop
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 2

Keywords: Sleep, Couples, Interaction, Negotiation, Gender
Abstract: The convention in Western societies of partners sharing a bed is symbolic of their status as a couple, their commitment to the relationship, and their desire for shared intimacy. Yet for many couples, incompatibility as sleeping partners may threaten to undermine romantic notions of the double bed. This paper draws on in-depth interview and audio diary data from research into sleep in couples aged 20-59 (N=40) to examine how couples negotiate the spatial, temporal and relational dimensions of the sleeping environment. The paper contends that the management of tensions inherent in the sleeping relationship plays a key role in framing the couple identity over time, as well as reinforcing the gendered roles, power relationships and inequalities which underpin everyday life.

Gender Roles and Women's Sleep in Mid and Later Life: a Quantitative Approach

Sara Arber, Jenny Hislop, Marcos Bote and Robert Meadows
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 3

Keywords: Sleep, Women, Gender Roles, Partners, Children, Socio-Economic Circumstances, Survey
Abstract: Women in mid and later life report particularly poor quality sleep. This article suggests a sociologically-informed quantitative approach to teasing out the impact of women's roles and relationships on their sleep, while also taking into account women's socio-economic characteristics and health status. This was accomplished through analysis of the UK Women's Sleep Survey 2003, based on self-completion questionnaires from a national sample of 1445 women aged over 40. The article assesses the ways in which three central aspects of women's gender roles: the night-time behaviours of their partners, night-time behaviours of their children, and night-time worries – impact on women's sleep, while also considering how disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances and poor health may compromise women's sleep. Using bivariate analysis followed by hierarchical multiple regression models, we examine the relative importance of different aspects of women's gender roles. The key factors implicated in the poor sleep quality of midlife and older women are their partner's snoring, night-time worries and concerns, poor health status (especially experiencing pain at night), disadvantaged socio-economic status (especially having lower educational qualifications) and for women with children, their children coming home late at night.

Caring and Sleep Disruption Among Women in Italy

Emanuela Bianchera and Sara Arber
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 4

Keywords: Gender, Women, Caring, Caregivers, Italy, Sleep
Abstract: Drawing on qualitative research with 27 Italian women aged between 40 and 80 years, this article examines how family structure, gender role expectations and caring roles impact on women's sleep at different points in their life course. Care work shapes sleep quality and duration for the majority of these women. High levels of sleep disturbance were found among women who cared for older frail or disabled relatives. Women caring for young children and adult children living at home also experience decreased sleep quality. When informal care is unsupported, very demanding and stress provoking, sleep disturbance is greater, with women experiencing insomnia, frequent awakenings and light sleep. The article discusses the implications of inadequate welfare provision in Italy, which increases women's unpaid domestic caring work resulting in adverse effects on sleep quality and their overall well being.

Embodying and Embedding Children's Sleep: Some Sociological Comments and Observations

Simon Williams, Pam Lowe and Frances Griffiths
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 6

Keywords: Children, Childhood, Sleep, Sociology, Embodiment
Abstract: This paper, drawing on our own research findings data, explores the embodiment and embedment of sleeping in children's everyday/night lives. Key themes here include children's attitudes and feelings toward the dormant body, the processes, routines and rituals associated with going to bed and going to sleep, issues associated with bedrooms and privacy, and finally the relationship between dormancy and domicile. This in turn provides the basis, in the remainder of the paper, for a further series of reflections on the mutually informing relations between the sociology of sleep and the sociology of childhood. Remaining questions and challenges involved in researching children's sleep are also considered. Sleep, it is concluded, is not simply a rich and fascinating sociological topic in its own right it also has the potential to shed valuable new light on a significant yet hitherto under-researched part of children's lives, contributing important new insights in doing so.

The Meanings of Sleep: Stories from Older Women in Care

Brooke Davis, Bernadette Hood and Dorothy Bruck
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 7

Keywords: Women, Aged-Care, Subjective Sleep Quality, Self-Categorization, Social Comparison, Temporal Comparison
Abstract: This study is a two phase project which utilizes a mixed methods design to investigate the construct of 'good' and 'poor' sleep quality amongst a cohort of older women in Australian residential care. Phase one of the study demonstrates the lack of congruence between quantitative measures of sleep behavior and self categorizations by the participants as 'good' or 'poor' sleepers. This lack of congruence is explored in the second phase of the project where semi structured interviews investigate the process by which self categorizations emerge. Interview data ratifies the findings of phase one identifying that the process of self-categorization is not necessarily linked to sleep behaviors, as many of these phenomena such as nocturnal disruption, or early morning awakenings were similarly described by self-categorized 'good' and 'poor' sleepers. Rather, it appears that these women, through the process of upward and downward social comparison, construct ideas about 'normal' sleep, and it is this normative definition, rather than the sleep phenomena experienced, that the individual uses to provide a benchmark for their self-categorization of sleep quality.

The Sleeping Lives of Children and Teenagers: Night-Worlds and Arenas of Action

Jo Moran-Ellis and Susan Venn
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 9

Keywords: Sleep, Children, Night-Worlds, Social Construction, Interaction, Teenagers, Arenas of Action
Abstract: Most research into sleep, even that which includes a sociological dimension, tends to focus on sleep outcomes, in effect following an agenda set by the natural sciences and psychology. The work reported in this paper engages with the material and social dimensions of sleep from within social constructionist and interactionist frameworks, seeking to explore and theorise the meaning and experience of sleep from the perspective of the sleeper. In doing this, we examine how contemporary constructions of sleep and constructions of childhood and adolescence arise and are linked in the UK context. Sleep time tends to be constructed as empty of activity other than sleeping and devoid of the sorts of interactions that characterise wakeful day-time. However, a grounded analysis of qualitative data generated with 9 children and 2o teenagers suggested that the assumption of absence of activity and interaction was misleading: their nights were populated by a range of actors, presences and activities. Placing our focus on these aspects of our participants' accounts of their sleep we found that the temporal, spatial and interactional dimensions of routine sleep served to create a definable arena of action (Hutchby and Moran-Ellis 1998) which was marked out both materially and socially. We conceptually frame this arena of sleep as a night-world (Moran-Ellis, 2006).

Mixed Communities Require Mixed Theories: Using Mills to Broaden Goffman's Exploration of Identity Within the GBLT Communities

Dann Hoxsey
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 10

Keywords: Mills, Goffman, Gay, Queer, Mixed-Methods, Methodology, Reflexivity, Sociological Imagination, Symbolic Interactionism, Class
Abstract: The central objective of this paper is to attempt to counter an overly-rigid theoretical approach in data analysis. Implicit in the push to identify and follow one proper theoretical stream is the idea that one's particular theoretical approach will always be plausible and contains an inherent 'value' over any other approach. That being said, the purpose of this paper is two-fold. The first is to argue that a rigid theoretical approach to understanding people from non-homogenized communities leaves the analysis wanting. Instead, I refer to a more flexible nature of using a mixed-method approach to analysis, which will generate an appropriately pluralistic representation of someone from a pluralist community. Secondly, this paper suggests that a mixed-method approach should include both a micro and a macro analysis. In this vein, I put forward the benefits of combining the theoretical approaches of both Goffman and Mills. In doing so, I am not suggesting that Goffman and Mills are the only theorists to use. Rather, the combination of these two theories is useful for understanding an intersubjective approach to myself. A flexible epistemological approach would recognize that other situations might call for the use of other theorists.

Selling My Queer Soul or Queerying Quantitative Research?

Kath Browne
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 11

Keywords: Research Methods, Quantitative, Queer, Lesbian, Gay, Gender, LGBT
Abstract: Sexualities research is increasingly gaining prominence within, and outside, of academia. This paper will use queer understandings to explore the contingent (re)formation of quantitative data, particularly those that seek to gain insights into Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans populations and lifestyles. I use queer critiques to explore the creation and normalising impulses of quantitative sexualities research and argue that research that addresses 'deviant'/other/(homo)sexualities brings categories (mainly lesbian and gay) into being. Using three key research events from a large scale quantitative research study of 7,212 respondents, 'Do it with Pride', the paper examines the (re)formation of quantitative research between researchers, respondents and the questionnaire. In particular the paper: reveals the contingency of research design by discussing the exclusion of the term 'queer' from the research design, and then questions categories of sexualities as fixed variables by examining; the piloting a non-normative gender question, and the re-coding of sexuality categories in the analysis phase. This points to the (re)creation of research categories, that are not simply instruments of measurements but are actively engaged in the (re)construction of sexualities (including but not limited to sexualities research) within normative frames. The paper finishes by taking this queer critique in a different direction juxtaposing the apparently stable products of quantitative research (questionnaires and reports) with an examination of the transgressive potentials of queer moments in (re)making such research.

Shifting Positionalities: Empirical Reflections on a Queer/Trans of Colour Methodology

Jin Haritaworn
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 13

Keywords: Mixed Race, Thai, Sex Work, Queer Sensibility, Racialised Gender Identities and Sexualities, Non-White Heterosexuality
Abstract: How can we study 'Queer', or indeed, should we? Drawing on fieldwork with people raised in interracial families in Britain and Germany, and reflecting on my own coming out as transgendered/genderqueer during the research, I reflect on the role of difference, similarity, and change in the production of queer knowledges. My entry point is a queer diasporic one. Queers of colour, I argue, have a particular stake in queering racialised heterosexualities; yet differences within diasporic spaces clearly matter. While 'Queer' can open up an alternative methodology of redefining and reframing social differences, the directionality of our queering - 'up' rather than 'down' - is clearly relevant. I suggest the anti-racist feminist principle of positionality as fruitful for such a queer methodology of change. This is explored with regard to a selection of empirical and cultural texts, including the debate around Paris is Burning, Jenny Livingston's film about the Harlem house/ball scene; the appeal that a non-white heterosexual artist such as South-Asian pop singer MIA can have for queers of colour; the camp role model which Thai sex work femininity can represent for queer and trans people from the second generation of Thai migration; and the solidarity of a Southeast Asian butch with feminine women in her diasporic collectivity.

Finding the Way to the End of the Rainbow: a Researcher's Insight Investigating British Older Gay Men's Lives

Adrian Lee
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 6

Keywords: Older Gay Men; Homosexuality; Ageing; Gender; Qualitative Methodology; Semi-Structured-Interview; Reflexivity
Abstract: This paper draws on exploratory research examining the sexual and ageing identities of gay men in England and the way in which these affect welfare needs and service use experiences. In this case, the focus is not upon the research findings per se, but on the research methods used to elucidate them. The author theorises about the ways in which the qualitative interviewing that took place was influenced by his age, homosexuality, and gender during the interaction with older gay men. The conclusions are that the shared gender and sexual orientation (although not without their differences) were crucial to the successful completion of the research and in trying to ensure participants felt valued and empowered. Therefore, it is asserted from this that increasingly reflexive research is paramount to the development of qualitative methodologies and gerontology, to ensure the academe is inclusive of diverse identities and that its research stands up to rigorous scrutiny.

How Has Educational Expansion Changed the Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Achieving Professional, Managerial and Technical Class Positions in Britain? a Configurational Analysis

Barry Cooper and Judith Glaesser
Sociological Research Online 13 (3) 2

Keywords: Boolean Methods, QCA, Social Class, Gender, Education, Meritocracy, Counterfactual Models
Abstract: This paper, whose purpose is both substantive and methodological, focuses on changes over a nine year period, drawing on data from two British birth cohorts (individuals born in 1958 and 1970), and, substantively, employs set theoretic methods to explore the extent to which an upward shift in qualifications achieved led to any reduction in the roles class and gender played in the achievement of professional, managerial and technical (PMT) social class destinations in early adulthood. Our methodological purpose is to illustrate how a counterfactual modelling approach can be used together with Ragin's set theoretic methods to provide an alternative way of analysing relationships in this area. We draw on earlier work exploring the extent to which educational achievement was 'meritocratic' with respect to ability for these cohorts (Author1, 2005, 2006). Our configurational account of the causal pathways to various class destinations is set against the background of a simple model of 'meritocracy' (allocation to available class positions by qualifications alone taking account of the empirical marginal distributions). This model allows us to specify, counterfactually, what qualifications would have represented necessary and sufficient conditions in our modelled meritocracy for reaching the PMT class. By comparison of these conditions with the empirically derived necessary and sufficient conditions for achieving these outcomes (using Ragin et al's fs/QCA software) we show that while allocation processes were far from meritocratic in both cohorts, there were some changes in the way both class and gender combined with qualifications as conditions for destinations. We also show that Ragin's configurational methods, focussing on holistically-conceived cases and conjunctural causation rather than on the net effects of independent variables, provide a useful analytic technique for capturing relationships in this field.

Gender Variations in the Nature of Undeclared Work: Evidence from Ukraine

Colin C. Williams and John Round
Sociological Research Online 13 (4) 7

Keywords: Informal Sector; Underground Economy; Shadow Economy; Gender Divisions of Labour; Envelope Wages; Monetary Exchange; Market Society; New Economic Sociology; Post-Socialism; Ukraine
Abstract: In recent years, a small but growing tributary of thought has begun to re-theorise the gendered nature of undeclared work by transcending the conventional 'thin' depiction of undeclared work as profit-motivated market-like exchange and constructing 'thicker' representations that recognise the presence of multifarious work relations and motives in this sphere. Given the paucity of empirical accounts that have sought to develop a nuanced theorisation of the gender variations in undeclared work based on such thicker readings, the aim of this paper is to report a study of the gendering of undeclared work in the post-socialist society of Ukraine. Analysing data collected from 600 face-to-face interviews conducted during late 2005 and early 2006 that unravel the work relations and motives involved when men and women engage in undeclared work in Ukraine, the finding is that whilst over two-thirds (68 per cent) of men's undeclared work in this post-socialist society is composed of various types of profit-motivated market-like work, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of women's undeclared work is undertaken for friends, neighbours and kin under work relations more akin to unpaid mutual aid and for rationales other than purely financial gain. The consequent argument is that representing undeclared work in conventional 'thin' terms as profit-motivated market-like endeavour depicts such work more through the lens of men's lived practices rather than women's experiences. The paper therefore concludes by calling not only for a re-theorisation of undeclared work and its gendered nature in a wider range of societies and regions of the world but also for a critical evaluation of the validity of depicting monetary transactions as always market-like and profit-motivated.

Senses of Gender

Jason Lim and Kath Browne
Sociological Research Online 14 (1) 6

Keywords: Trans; Transgender; Transsexual; Sex; Gender; Sense; LGBT; Embodiment; Body; Mental Health
Abstract: This paper explores the testimony of trans respondents to Count Me In Too (a participatory action research project that examined LGBT lives in Brighton and Hove), and this analysis occasions the development of innovative concepts for thinking about understandings and experiences of trans phenomena and gender. The analysis starts by exploring the diversity of trans identities before considering evidence of how health services pathologise trans experiences. These analyses not only call into question mind/body dualisms within contemporary gender schema, but also challenge the continued reliance on a sex/gender dichotomy – both in public institutions and in academic theorising – making a definitive distinction between transsexualism and transgenderism difficult to sustain. To do justice to the complexity of the respondents' testimony, we advance the concept of a 'sense of gender' – a sense that belongs to the body, but that is not the same as its fleshy materiality – as one register in which gender is lived, experienced and felt. This sense of gender becomes expressed in relation to a sense of dissonance (sometimes articulated through the 'wrong body discourse') among the various elements that compose the body, its sex and its gender, such that the 'body' experiences an inability to be 'consistent' in ways that are usually taken for granted. The paper suggests that further work needs to be undertaken to explore how the concept of 'senses of gender' can be applied to a broader rethinking of the relationship between gender and the body.

Young People and Political Participation: An Analysis of European Union Policies

Rachel Brooks
Sociological Research Online 14 (1) 7

Keywords: Political Participation, Young People, European Union, Gender
Abstract: There is now widespread recognition that, far from being politically apathetic, young people across Europe are engaged in a wide range of 'political' activities. While turnout at national and European elections among the 18-25 age group may be low, researchers have highlighted diverse and creative new forms of political participation. In relation to young women, in particular, Harris (2005) has presented a compelling analysis of the new 'borderspaces' opened up between public and private domains by young women through the use of new technologies. She contends that in the face of greater surveillance and regulation brought about by the shift to neo-liberal forms of governmentality, carving out a protected space for oneself is a political act, in itself. Moreover, the creative ways in which young women across the world use such spaces – to question dominant narratives about the nature of contemporary girlhood, to resist discourses which construct young women as merely passive consumers, and to trouble conventional notions of 'youth participation' – are highly political. Some EU representatives have indicated an awareness of these new forms of engagement and professed a desire to develop links between them and more traditional forms of party politics and policy making (Hoskins, 2005). Nevertheless, the degree to which these sentiments have been translated into policy remains unclear. This article draws on recent documents on young people, citizenship and political participation to assess the extent to which these new spaces of young women's politics are, firstly, recognised and, secondly, valued within EU policy.

Transforming Masculinist Political Cultures? Doing Politics in New Political Institutions

Stephanie Jones, Nickie Charles and Charlotte Aull Davies
Sociological Research Online 14 (2) 1

Keywords: Gender, Political Culture, New Political Institutions, Consensus Politics, Political Style, National Assembly for Wales
Abstract: In the devolved legislative assemblies of Scotland and Wales the proportion of women representatives is approaching parity. This is in marked contrast to Westminster where one in five MPs are women. In this paper we explore the extent to which the masculinist political cultures characterising established political institutions are being reproduced in the National Assembly for Wales or whether its different gendering, both in the numbers of women representatives and in terms of its institutional framework, is associated with a more feminised political and organisational culture. Drawing on interviews with half the Assembly Members, women and men, we show that the political style of the Assembly differs from that of Westminster and that Assembly Members perceive it as being more consensual and as embodying a less aggressive and macho way of doing politics. AMs relate this difference to the gender parity amongst Assembly Members, to the institutional arrangements which have an 'absolute duty' to promote equality embedded in them, and to the desire to develop a different way of doing politics. We suggest that the ability to do politics in a more feminised and consensual way relates not only to the presence of a significant proportion of women representatives, but also to the nature of the institution and the way in which differently gendered processes and practices are embedded within it. Differently gendered political institutions can develop a more feminised political culture which provides an alternative to the masculinist political culture characterising the political domain.

Solo-Living, Demographic and Family Change: The Need to Know More About Men

Lynn Jamieson, Fran Wasoff and Roona Simpson
Sociological Research Online 14 (2) 5

Keywords: Family Friendship Gender Intimacy Solo-Living One-Person Household
Abstract: Solo-living is analytically separate from 'being single' and merits separate study. In most Western countries more men are solo-living than women at ages conventionally associated with co-resident partners and children. Discussions of 'demographic transition' and change in personal life however typically place women in the vanguard, to the relative neglect of men. We draw on European Social Survey data and relevant qualitative research from Europe and North America demonstrating the need for further research.

The Origins of Modern Nationalism in the North Atlantic Interaction Sphere

Jonathan Hearn
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 12

Keywords: Origins of Nationalism, Interaction Spheres, Social Change, Charles Tilly, Revolutions, Empires, Atlantic History
Abstract: This article challenges the standard narrative (e.g. Gellner) regarding the origins of modern nationalism in Europe, and Benedict Anderson's contrary suggestion that it first took shape in creole America, arguing instead that the formation of modern nationalism needs to be understood as a transatlantic process, in keeping with recent research on Atlantic history. More specifically, the North Atlantic dynamic of imperial competition between Britain and France, that led to the American and French Revolutions, is seen as the crucible of modern state formation, and it is argued that the North Atlantic needs to be understood not simply as a geographic space, but as a distinctive sphere of social and ideological interaction, given the centrality of sea-going during this period. It was this complex social environment, centred on a long18th century, that most provoked new imaginings of national community. Toward this end the article articulates the analytic concept of the 'interaction sphere'. With this it picks up on Charles Tilly's key concerns with how best to analyse large historical processes, and his emphasis on political competition and social interaction in explaining social change.

Fast Girls, Foreigners and GIs: An Exploration of the Discursive Strategies Through Which the Status of Pre-Marital (Hetero)sexual Ignorance and Restraint Was Upheld During the Second World War

Jenny Hockey, Angela Meah and Victoria Robinson
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 14

Keywords: Sexual Knowledge, Sexual Practice, Taboo, Stigma, Gender, History, Marriage, Pregnancy, Death, Second World War
Abstract: This paper explores contradictions within qualitative data gathered among women and men whose young adulthood coincided with the Second World War. These data were generated as part of an ESRC-funded project which investigated the making of heterosexual relationships cross-generationally. They suggest the co-existence of both a prevalent taboo or stigma associated with sexual knowledge and practice before and outside marriage, and personal experiences of precisely these engagements with embodied sexuality. Drawing on Charles Tilly's work, the paper argues that, when interrogated, these contradictions can reveal the strategies through which a creaky heterosexual consensus was shored up during a period of military upheaval that profoundly destabilised existing beliefs and practices. Tilly differentiated between academic historians who sought to reconcile 'very large structural changes' and 'the changing experiences of ordinary people' through either collectivist or individualist approaches to 'history from below'. Neither of these methods could yield an adequate account, in his view. However, the 'lay historians' who participated in our study combined collectivist and individualist perspectives, thereby providing a unique insight into an era when collective values and individual practices were often in tension with one another. As our participants spoke about their young adulthood, their data revealed the potency of local gossip which mobilised wider discourses of alterity or 'othering', so shoring up a consensual view of sexual mores, despite the prevalence of attitudes and practices that contravened it. What we argue, therefore, is that rather than a half-remembered, contradictory account of heterosexuality during the 1920s and 1930s, the data we gathered in the early 21st century exemplifies precisely the discursive strategies of that period. In other words, these data shed light on the ways in which not only heterosexual norms, but also an entire, endangered system of distinctions based on class, gender and national identity was upheld.

Neopagan Narratives: Knowledge Claims and Other World 'Realities'

Sara Delamont
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 18

Keywords: Autobiography, Narrative, Ethnography, Neopaganism, Authenticity, Rhetoric, Gender
Abstract: The late Charles Tilly argued that good social science required both detailed analyses of the minutiae of everyday life and of the big structures and large social processes. This paper argues that analyses of social scientists' everyday practices, and particularly of their autobiographical narratives, are one way to illuminate the large-scale social processes that are ongoing in the social sciences. The specific focus, ethnography on neopagans, leads to a discussion of four 'big' questions of the type Tilly advocated. The inextricable links between academic textual conventions, the use and abuse of narrative data, and 'access' to the 'realities' and 'knowledges' of believers in other worldly phenomena in other dimensions or times, are explored. There has been a rapid growth in neopaganism in all the industrialised Anglophone countries since the 1960s. Ethnographers, particularly women, have conducted fieldwork in such groups, exploring the cosmologies and practices of neopagans. An analysis of the published accounts of such fieldwork raises questions about ethnography, gender, and particularly how claims to authenticity are made in academic texts. The specific topic - who can speak about neopaganism? - has wider applications when other types of narrative are explored.

Using Mead's Theory of Emergence as a Framework for Sociological Inquiry into Pre-Service Teacher Education

Jeanne Allen, Mark Sinclair and Richard Smith
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 6

Keywords: Mead, Theory of Emergence, Field of Interaction, Role Taking, Self Regulated Behaviour, Rationality, Theory-Practice Gap, Pre-Service Teacher Education, Beginning Teacher Practice
Abstract: In this paper we take up Chang's (2004) challenge to apply Mead's theory of emergence in sociological inquiry. Largely overlooked by scholars, this theory is shown to prove explanatory in one field where limited solutions have been found to date. Specifically, the theory sheds light on how the theory-practice gap is created and sustained in pre-service teacher education. The argument is that under current institutional arrangements the trainee/beginning teacher encounters different and oft-times conflicting environmental, social and cultural conditions in the two 'fields of interaction' (Mead, 1934: 249) of their training program, namely, the on-campus pre-service program and the school. The argument draws on interview and focus group data collected via a study of first-year graduate teachers of an Australian pre-service teacher education program. We conclude that the Meadian mechanisms of role taking and self-regulated behaviour within the two environmental fields of interaction inhibit the trainee/beginning teacher from exercising the power of agency to implement theory learned at university in practice in the classroom. In this sense Mead's theory of emergence predicts the obduracy of the gap between theory and practice in teacher education.

Explaining the Health Gap Experienced by Girls and Women in Canada: A Social Determinants of Health Perspective

Cecilia Benoit, Leah Shumka, Kate Vallance, Helga Hallgrimsdottir, Rachel Phillips, Karen Kobayashi, Olena Hankivsky, Colleen Reid and Elana Brief
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 9

Keywords: Social Determinants, Sex, Gender, Intersectionality, Health Gap, Canada, Social Location, Life Course
Abstract: In the last few decades there has been a resurgence of interest in the social causes of health inequities among and between individuals and populations. This 'social determinants' perspective focuses on the myriad demographic and societal factors that shape health and well-being. Heeding calls for the mainstreaming of two very specific health determinants sex and gender we incorporate both into our analysis of the health gap experienced by girls and women in Canada. However, we take an intersectional approach in that we argue that a comprehensive picture of health inequities must, in addition to considering sex and gender, include a context sensitive analysis of all the major dimensions of social stratification. In the case of the current worldwide economic downturn, and the uniquely diverse Canadian population spread over a vast territory, this means thinking carefully about how socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, immigrant status, employment status and geography uniquely shape the health of all Canadians, but especially girls and women. We argue that while a social determinants of health perspective is important in its own right, it needs to be understood against the backdrop of broader structural processes that shape Canadian health policy and practice. By doing so we can observe how the social safety net of all Canadians has been eroding, especially for those occupying vulnerable social locations.

Parenting in Post-Divorce Estonian Families: A Qualitative Study

Leeni Hansson
Sociological Research Online 15 (1) 1

Keywords: Divorce; Parenting Patterns; Traditional Gender Roles; Qualitative Study; Estonia
Abstract: Estonia is a society characterised by persistence of traditional gender role attitudes. Accordingly, taking care of children is considered to be mainly mother's task and children's living arrangements following divorce are usually solved in the most traditional way children stay with their mother. Based on qualitative interviews with divorced mothers the study focused on the attitudes of mothers towards fathers' involvement in parenting following divorce. It was possible to differentiate between three post-divorce parenting patterns: (1) cooperative parenting with nonresident father involved with his children, (2) distant parenting characterized by loose contacts between children and nonresident father, and (3) sole parenting without any paternal involvement or financial support. The interviewees basically agreed that shared parental responsibilities would be the ideal form of post-divorce parenting but in practice their expectations concerning father's involvement were rather modest. The interviewees mostly approved prevailing in Estonia normative gendered parental role obligations with mother as the primary parent who had to take main responsibility for children both in the marriage as well as in the post-divorce period.

Retirement: Institutional Pathways and Individual Trajectories in Britain and Germany

Anette E. Fasang
Sociological Research Online 15 (2) 1

Keywords: Retirement, Aging, Life Course, Sequence Analysis, Germany, Britain, Gender
Abstract: Since the 1970s people have retired increasingly early across advanced societies. Parallel to this trend, numerous institutional early retirement pathways evolved, such as bridge unemployment and pre-retirement schemes. This article compares retirement in Britain and Germany to show how individuals progress through these institutional retirement pathways. The analysis uses longitudinal data and recent innovations in sequence analysis to capture the sequential nature of retirement as a series of transitions over time. As expected, prominent institutional retirement pathways are mirrored in individual retirement trajectories. Beyond these expected patterns, there are pronounced regularities in individual retirement trajectories outside of explicit institutional pathways. The 'institution of the family' is an additional powerful force in structuring women's retirement. Access to advantageous institutional retirement pathways is stratified by gender, education, income, and health. The article concludes that specific population groups, particularly women, are systematically excluded from protective institutional early retirement pathways in Britain and Germany.

Possibilities of Enacting and Researching Epistemic Communities

Dagmar Lorenz-Meyer
Sociological Research Online 15 (2) 13

Keywords: Epistemic Community, Epistemic Responsibility, Epistemic Cultures, Community of Practice, Gendering of Community, Synchrotron User Community
Abstract: This article explores what the concept of epistemic community can contribute to studies of science and technology and to existing analytical frames of epistemic cultures, technosocial network and community of practice. Reviewing conceptions of epistemic community in political science, organisational studies and feminist epistemologies I suggest that heuristic dimensions include a focus on historical contingencies and timings; on particular epistemic projects and technologies that work as boundary objects; and on epistemic responsibilities and stratifications. These dimensions are further explored in two research vignettes. The first vignette follows the mobilisation and expectations of the Czech synchrotron user community at a funding event as a focal point for examining epistemic responsibilities and the genderings of community. The second vignette follows a biographical narrative about being and becoming a member of an epistemic community and amplifies the importance of different configurations of community. I argue that the contours, distributions and textures of an epistemic community cannot be studied at a single analytical site such as the laboratory and conclude by outlining what can be gained by using a refined concept of epistemic communities and sketching some strategies for further research.

'My Bed or Our Bed?': Gendered Negotiations in the Sleep of Same-Sex Couples

Allison Kirkman
Sociological Research Online 15 (2) 5

Keywords: Sleep, Gender, Sexuality, Same-Sex Couples, Intimacy, Caring
Abstract: Sexuality as well as gender can be added to the range of socio-structural factors that influence the social patterning of sleep. This paper draws on in-depth interviews with 20 women and men aged between 45 – 65 years in same-sex couple relationships to examine how they negotiate their sleeping arrangements. The paper contends that gender differences are evident in how these negotiations are played out in the bedroom with women and men in same-sex relationships mirroring some of the patterns demonstrated in the research about women and men in opposite-sex couple relationships. However there are also differences, both between the same-sex women and men, and also when compared with the research concerned with the sleep negotiations between opposite-sex couples. These differences relate to the strategies used in managing a same-sex coupled identity with sharing a bed part of this management.

Empowering or Disempowering? Online Support Among Seafarer-Partners

Lijun Tang
Sociological Research Online 15 (2) 6

Keywords: Cyberspace, Empowerment, Gender, Relationships, Seafaring, Support Groups, Values
Abstract: Past research in sociology and social psychology has revealed two aspects of online support. This mutual support among members of online support groups brings about empowerment as well as produces common values. The interaction between the two, however, has not been explicitly explored. This paper fills in this gap by examining the activities of a group of seafarer-partners in an online support group. It shows that common beliefs and values in groups can make online support, which is supposed to be empowering, serve disempowering purposes. This suggests that online support can produce a tension between empowerment and disempowerment. The finding leads to the conclusion that group values condition the empowerment potential of online support.

Gendered Performances in a Male-Dominated Subculture: 'Girl Racers', Car Modification and the Quest for Masculinity

Karen Lumsden
Sociological Research Online 15 (3) 6

Keywords: Car Culture; Femininity; Ethnography; Gender; Subcultures; Youth
Abstract: This paper discusses female participation in the male-dominated 'boy racer' culture. Little is known about girls who join male-dominated subcultures while studies of car cultures have tended to describe girls as peripheral participants and emphasise the link between the car and masculinity. Hence this paper provides an analysis of 'girl racers'; those drivers who are active participants in the 'racer' culture through their positioning in the 'driver's seat'. Gender is understood as 'performative' and Connell's notions of 'hegemonic masculinity' and 'emphasized femininity' frame the analysis. For the 'girl racers', 'doing gender' involved negotiating a complex set of norms while reconciling the competing discourses of the masculine 'racer' scene and femininity. In order to be viewed as authentic participants, females were required to act like 'one of the boys' through their style of dress, driving, language and attitudes. They internalised the gender norms of the culture rather than resisting them explicitly, for fear of being excluded from the group. However, the feminine ways in which they modified their cars allowed them to retain an element of femininity within the world of 'boy racers'. Thus, 'girl racers' resourcefully negotiated their way through the culture by employing a combination of complex strategies involving compliance, resistance and cooperation with the masculine values of the group. Findings are presented from participant observation, semi-structured and ethnographic interviews with members of the 'racer' culture in Aberdeen, Scotland, and semi-structured interviews with members of 'outside' groups.

The Work of Repair: Gesture, Emotion and Sensual Knowledge

Tim Dant
Sociological Research Online 15 (3) 7

Keywords: Work, Repair, Cars, Phenomenology, Material Interaction
Abstract: As the pressure on limited natural resources and energy increases so the trend of the consumer society of the twentieth century towards discarding things that stop working and replacing them will shift towards recycling and repairing things. This paper contrasts the work of production with the work of repair and argues that the later is an artisanal process in tune with the species being of humans identified by Marx. Amongst the distinctive characteristics of the work of repair are the use of a complex repertoire of gestures, a variable emotional tone and the gathering of sensual knowledge. These distinctively human characteristics are not amenable to systematisation or replication in a machine process. The argument is illustrated with reference to more than sixty years of research on mechanised production in the car industry and a recent study of the work of repairing cars in local garages. Video data – here summarised with still images – is used to show the complex process of the work of repair that is explored in the light of theoretical perspectives from Leroi-Gourhan, Hendrick, and Merleau-Ponty.

Stories from Brixton: Gentrification and Different Differences

George Mavrommatis
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 12

Keywords: Gentrification, Race, Ethnicity, Class, Gender, Age, Intersectionality
Abstract: Brixton is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods of London. Its name has been strongly associated with meanings related to race, difference and postcolonial resistance. This paper sheds light on aspects of local gentrification and multicultural constructions of the social world, as told by people who moved into the area through the years. According to our analysis, Brixton's gentrification revolves around the joys of diversity. More interestingly, phenomena of intercultural disassociation that allegedly characterize the gentrified world of Brixton are mostly narrated in economic/social terms (class, income, education, lifestyle etc.) or alternatively in a synthetic way that brings together class along with race, ethnicity, gender and age. As a result of this, a kind of a question arises: What is the relationship between gentrification and different differences and how should it be analyzed, in spaces of diversity, in order to do justice to all categories involved?

Fathers 'Care' Too: The Impact of Family Relationships on the Experience of Work for Parents of Disabled Children

Katharine Venter
Sociological Research Online 16 (3) 1

Keywords: Carers, Children's Chronic Illness, Disability, Employment, Family, Gender, Parenting
Abstract: There is a wealth of literature exploring the impact of parenthood on employment. However, this literature largely overlooks the experiences of parents of children with disabilities, for whom combining the care of their child with employment poses considerable challenges. Within the limited literature on these parents, the focus is on primary carers who are predominantly women. Consequently, the implications for fathers' employment experiences of parenting children with disabilities are largely invisible. Based on research with mothers and fathers this paper argues that being the parent of a child with disabilities impacts significantly on the characteristics of both parents' employment and on their experience of employment. This depends on the nature of parents' roles in care and is reflective of broader patterns of gender relationships within the family. Employment decisions take place within an ongoing parental dialogue that reflects broader conceptualisations of gender relations within the family and in the workplace.

Is Social Mobility Really Declining? Intergenerational Class Mobility in Britain in the 1990s and the 2000s

Yaojun Li and Fiona Devine
Sociological Research Online 16 (3) 4

Keywords: Social Class, Absolute and Relative Mobility, Gender Difference, Social Fluidity
Abstract: This paper contributes to the ongoing debate on social mobility in contemporary Britain among economists and sociologists. Using the 1991 British Household Panel Survey and the 2005 General Household Survey, we focus on the mobility trajectories of male and female respondents aged 25-59. In terms of absolute mobility, we find somewhat unfavourable trends in upward mobility for men although long-term mobility from the working class into salariat positions is still in evidence. An increase in downward mobility is clearly evident. In relation to women, we find favourable trends in upward mobility and unchanging downward mobility over the fourteen-year time period. With regard to relative mobility, we find signs of greater fluidity in the overall pattern and declining advantages of the higher salariat origin for both men and women. We consider these findings in relation to the public debate on social mobility and the academic response and we note the different preoccupations of participants in the debate. We conclude by suggesting that the interdisciplinary debate between economists and sociologists has been fruitful although a recognition of similarities, and not simply differences in position, pushes knowledge and understanding forward.

Placing Research: 'City Publics' and the 'Public Sociologist'

Yvette Taylor and Michelle Addison
Sociological Research Online 16 (4) 6

Keywords: Public Sociology, Use, Impact, City Publics, Class, Gender
Abstract: This article raises questions about who becomes the proper subject for (non)academic attention in a time when 'city publics' might be positioned as democratising and open or, conversely, as curtailed and shaped through specific and pre-determined economies of value and use. The use of the city and its residents are echoed in regeneration politics and objectives, attached to and brought forward by specific 'regenerative' subjects, now deemed 'resilient' and capacitated. Such rhetorics of inclusion and measurable impact are echoed within ideas of a 'public sociology', which the engaged researcher should practice as she re-engages differently located spaces and subjects. Here, questions are raised about the place of a 'public sociology' as part of a 'city publics', where understanding local disseminations and disparities is important in considering where different users, interviewees and indeed researchers are coming from. Having situated the fieldwork site, we initially focus on the expert advisory group and their constructions of the project's 'use-value'. We then consider the background 'shadows' in and out of 'expert' space, as a trailing presence of research intentions and trajectories. Ideas of public sociology – as with an open 'city publics' often assumes that all users are interested, willing to hear and appear as equal members of a 'community'. In contrast, the experience of engaging a user group may involve dis-engaging the research-researcher-researched and here we provide disruptions to a straightforward 'travelling through' research space as we walk through our research methodologies. This article presents professional and personal reflections on research experience as well as interpretative accounts of navigating fieldwork and city space.

Socio-Cultural Risk? Reporting on a Qualitative Study with Female Street-Based Sex Workers

Mary Leaker and Priscilla Dunk-West
Sociological Research Online 16 (4) 9

Keywords: Sex Work, Prostitution, Risk, Gender, Gendered Violence, Socio-Cultural Risk Theory, Disembedding Risk
Abstract: Risk narratives are of increasing importance in contemporary social life in that they help in understanding and anticipating the shifts that characterise our late modern landscape. Our qualitative research explores risk as it relates to violence toward street-based sex workers in a suburban Australian setting. Female street-based sex workers represent a highly stigmatised and marginalised group. International studies report that they experience high levels of sexual violence perpetrated by male clients and our empirical work with street-based sex workers in Adelaide, South Australia concurs with this finding. Despite many creative and specialized skills workers reported drawing upon to minimise the risk of violence to themselves, we argue that a socio-cultural lens is vital to viewing risk in this context. We argue that in order to effect change, risk must be disembedded from increasingly individualized discourses, since it is through the personalisation of risk that violence becomes legitimised as an occupational hazard in street-based sex work.

Social Stratification, Gender and Sport Participation

Aaron Reeves
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 12

Keywords: Bourdieu, Sport, Culture, Class, Gender, Education
Abstract: Correlations between social class and specific types of sport participation have frequently been observed (Crook 1997; Ceron-Anaya 2010; Dollman and Lewis 2010; Stalsberg and Pedersen 2010). However, discrete associations between occupational class positions and specific sporting activities overlook the complex interrelationships amongst these sports. Until recently, understanding the relationality of sport has been constrained by a lack of available and appropriate data. Work by Bourdieu (1984), and more recently Bennett et al. (2009), have explored the general field of cultural consumption and sport has been one dimension of these treatments. Using multiple correspondence analysis (Le Roux and Rouanet 2004), this research focuses upon the social space of sport participation in Britain in order to provide a more detailed account of how these activities are organised. From data in the Taking-Part Survey (n = 10,349), which was conducted between July 2005-October 2006, 19 sporting practices are situated along four key dimensions. The first dimension separates gender and corresponds to a division between an embodied or social focus. Dimension two captures the impact of age. Internal and external orientations divide dimension three, where men tend to be internally oriented. Class, education and Social status are significant along this dimension. Dimension four differentiates between various self-employed and various forms of manual workers; reinforcing occupational and educational differences. Consequently, the social space of sports participation cannot be neatly contained within the logic of class; other explanations drawing on friendship, education and embodiment are also needed.

Space, Buildings and the Life Worlds of Home-Based Workers: Towards Better Design

Frances Holliss
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 24

Keywords: Home-Based Work, Space, Design, Visual Methods, Life-Worlds, Architecture, Class, Lifestyle, Occupational Identity, Gender, Dwelling, Workplace, Family, Public, Private, Home, Workhome, Typology
Abstract: This article draws on recent research into the architecture of home‐based work, the working practices of the home-based workforce and the range and types of buildings they inhabit. The initial project was conducted in 2005-07. It involved 76 informants, from urban, suburban and rural contexts in England: a London Borough, a London suburb and a West Sussex village. Follow-on research was conducted in London in 2009-11. Originating in architecture, the research employed a number of visual methods, including photography, orthogonal drawing and diagram-making. While these visual methods are commonplace in architecture, they are normally used to portray idealized buildings and interiors. People and their everyday lives are usually absent. In contrast, as is more typical of sociology, a primary concern of this research was to understand the ordinary daily lives of people who either lived at their workplace or worked in their homes. The research sought a better understanding of the historical and contemporary significance of the spaces and buildings that would be of use to this workforce, one which could give a voice to contemporary home-based workers across the social spectrum and in a wide variety of occupations. Representing their life-worlds visually has been central to this aim.

Qualitative Secondary Analysis and Social Explanation

Sarah Irwin and Mandy Winterton
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 4

Keywords: Qualitative Research Methods, Secondary Analysis, Re-Use, Gender, Time Pressure
Abstract: The current paper takes as a focus some issues relating to the possibility for, and effective conduct of, qualitative secondary data analysis. We consider some challenges for the re-use of qualitative research data, relating to researcher distance from the production of primary data, and related constraints on knowledge of the proximate contexts of data production. With others we argue that distance and partial knowledge of proximate contexts may constrain secondary analysis but that its success is contingent on its objectives. So long as data analysis is fit for purpose then secondary analysis is no poor relation to primary analysis. We argue that a set of middle range issues has been relatively neglected in debates about secondary analysis, and that there is much that can be gained from more critical reflection on how salient contexts are conceptualised, and how they are accessed, and assumed, within methodologies and extant data sets. We also argue for more critical reflection on how effective knowledge claims are built. We develop these arguments through a consideration of ESRC Timescapes qualitative data sets with reference to an illustrative analysis of gender, time pressure and work/family commitments. We work across disparate data sets and consider strategies for translating evidence, and engendering meaningful analytic conversation, between them.

Dimensions and Boundaries: Comparative Analysis of Occupational Structures Using Social Network and Social Interaction Distance Analysis

Dave Griffiths and Paul Lambert
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 5

Keywords: Social Interaction; Social Distance; Social Networks; Occupations
Abstract: This paper analyses social interactions between detailed occupational positions as a means of exploring social and occupational inequalities. Two methods are employed: descriptive techniques of social network analysis, and a well-established modelling approach (the 'CAMSIS' method of 'Social Interaction Distance' analysis). New results on occupational connections are presented for four countries - the United States, Romania, the Philippines and Venezuela – illustrative of a range of socio-economic regimes. Our analyses use detailed occupational measures based upon census data from 2000 to 2002, and we also use data on educational attainment, cross-classified by occupational positions. A broad, singular dimension of social stratification is shown to be the principal element of the structure of social interactions between occupations, but the methods also reveal the social role of various boundaries in occupational interaction patterns (defined by work location, education, and gender). We argue that such distinctions imply that occupational data at a disaggregated level can provide a more thorough understanding of social structure than is observable using amalgamated occupational schemes.

Time for Class: Undergraduates' and Lecturers' Perceptions on Why Undergraduates Want to Teach

Andrew Morrison
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 12

Keywords: Higher Education; Class; Gender; Career Decision-Making
Abstract: This paper reports upon the results of a small-scale qualitative investigation looking at the perceptions of students and lecturers regarding students' motivations to become teachers. The samples for the study were a group of final-year undergraduates on a non-QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) degree in Education Studies at a post-1992 university in the South-East Wales area and their lecturing staff, plus careers advisor. The aim of the study was to compare the perceptions of the two research samples with regard to students' motivations for wanting to become teachers. A particular focus of the study was to consider the relationship between students' social class and the extent to which (if at all) they cited extrinsic factors such as job security or pay as sources of motivation to enter teaching. The research revealed some degree of disjunction between the accounts given by the students and the members of staff. Focus group interviews with student samples indicated that although they initially highlighted intrinsic motivations for wanting to be teachers, when questioned about extrinsic factors, job security emerged as an important source of motivation. In contrast, individual interviews with staff members revealed more mixed responses, with a tendency to cite holidays as an important motivating factor in the students' aim to become teachers. The comments of some staff members also revealed an unwitting tendency to position students within a cultural deficit discourse based upon perceptions of students' limited career decision-making. It is concluded that it will be increasingly necessary for higher education teaching staff to have some awareness of the social context within which their students undertake career decision-making in view of a policy context in which universities are to become increasingly accountable for the employment outcomes of their graduates.

Between Political Fad and Political Empowerment: A Critical Evaluation of the National Muslim Women's Advisory Group (NMWAG) and Governmental Processes of Engaging Muslim Women

Chris Allen and Surinder Guru
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 17

Keywords: National Muslim Women's Advisory Group; Muslim Communities; Political Engagement; Consultation; Extremism; Gender
Abstract: Established in 2008 and launched by the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, the National Muslim Women's Advisory Group (NMWAG) brought together 19 British Muslim women to advise Government on ways to empower Muslim women and increase their participation in civic, economic and social life. This article critically considers the NMWAG as a vehicle for improving how government sought to engage Muslim women within the context of a political and policy agenda that sought to prevent violent extremism. The article begins with a consideration of the ways in which women's groups - including those which might represent more than one constituency, BME women for instance - have traditionally emerged and mobilised as a means of advocating and lobbying on behalf of those they represent. From here, the article considers how government has engaged with faith communities, paying particular attention to governmental dialogue with Muslims, the reasons for this, and where - if at all - Muslim women have featured. From here, the article approaches the way in which the establishment of the NMWAG is anomalous in comparison to historical processes, putting forward some observations and theories to explain why this might have been so whilst also considering the impacts - both potential and actual - within the context of the post-9/11 era. In conclusion, this article considers the impact of the NMWAG as a means of improving learning about the role and process of governmental engagement.

Embodying Gender, Age, Ethnicity and Power in 'the Field': Reflections on Dress and the Presentation of the Self in Research with Older Pakistani Muslims

Maria Zubair, Wendy Martin and Christina Victor
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 21

Keywords: Age; Ethnicity; Gender; Power; Body; Dress; Fieldwork; Identity; Researcher; Reflexivity
Abstract: In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in researching people growing older in the South Asian ethnic minority communities in the UK. However, these populations have received comparatively little attention in wide-ranging discussions on culturally and socially appropriate research methodologies. In this paper, we draw on the experiences of a young female Pakistani Muslim researcher researching older Pakistani Muslim women and men, to explore the significance of gender, age and ethnicity to fieldwork processes and 'field' relationships. In particular, we highlight the significance of dress and specific presentations of the embodied self within the research process. We do so by focusing upon three key issues: (1) Insider/Outsider boundaries and how these boundaries are continuously and actively negotiated in the field through the use of dress and specific presentations of the embodied 'self'; (2) The links between gender, age and space - more specifically, how the researcher's use of traditional Pakistani dress, and her differing research relationships, are influenced by the older Pakistani Muslim participants' gendered use of public and private space; and (3) The opportunities and vulnerabilities experienced by the researcher in the field, reinforced by her use (or otherwise) of the traditional and feminine Pakistani Muslim dress. Our research therefore highlights the role of different presentations of the embodied 'self' to fieldwork processes and relationships, and illustrates how age, gender and status intersect to produce fluctuating insider/outsider boundaries as well as different opportunities and experiences of power and vulnerability within research relationships.

Practice 'in Talk' and Talk 'as Practice': Dish Washing and the Reach of Language

Lydia Martens
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 22

Keywords: Practice Theory, Methodology, Qualitative Interviewing, Dish Washing, Teleo-Affective Priorities, Human-To-Human Interaction, Activity  
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to open up debate about the methodological implications of adopting practice theory in social research. Practice theory has become a much used analytical framework for researchers working on the question 'what we do' in relation to a diverse set of contemporary concerns, but discussion on the epistemological implications has thus far been limited. By looking at interview talk on dish washing through a practice-theoretical lens grounded in Schatzki's (1996, 2002) ontology of practices, I set out to examine how language and talk form a resource and an obstruction when we want to think about mundane practices in scholarly ways. My concern is located within the broader questioning of qualitative interviews in debate in the social sciences. Acknowledging that interviews are 'distinctive forms of social action' (Atkinson & Coffey 2003), I move on to consider how talk about washing up in interviews conveys the interaction between two practices; those of talking as the salient embodied practice wielded by human beings in interaction with each other, and dish washing as an integrated cleaning practice common in domestic kitchens. The analysis suggests that our qualitative interviews stimulated talk on the teleo-affective qualities of dish-washing. Rules and principles also appeared in the talk in specific ways. However, the talk was not so good for gaining understanding of the activity of dish washing. In conclusion, I argue that the standard qualitative interview brings out the human-to-human interactional concerns of practices, but that different research contexts need to be developed and employed for gaining greater understanding of the performance (or activity) of the practice of dish washing.

'If You Had Balls, You'd Be One of Us!' Doing Gendered Research: Methodological Reflections on Being a Female Academic Researcher in the Hyper-Masculine Subculture of 'Football Hooliganism'

Emma Poulton
Sociological Research Online 17 (4) 4

Keywords: Football Hooliganism, Gender, Hyper-Masculinity, Deviant/criminal Subcultures, Female Academic, Reflexivity, Presentation of Self, Performativity
Abstract: This article reflects upon being a female academic researcher in the hyper-masculine subculture of 'football hooliganism'. With this subculture being a male-dominated field of study, the article argues that gender blindness has prevailed in most studies conducted by male researchers, with a failure to consider the positioning, practices and performances of the gendered self in the gendered field. Nor has this been a consideration of the rare female researcher working on the phenomenon. This article breaks this gendered silence by drawing on my own fieldwork experiences with ('retired') football hooligans to identify the methodological challenges specifically (re)negotiated as a female academic throughout the gendered research process and offers some strategies and field tips to future researchers faced with gendered incongruence with their informers. The key concerns for me were: first, gaining access to a hyper-masculine subculture; second, entering and developing rapport within the subculture; and third, 'doing gendered research' in the hyper-masculine field. Central to negotiating these challenges was a very conscious and performative presentation of self, often for self-preservation, during the research process. In practice, this sometimes required demonstrating that I had the (metaphorical) 'balls' in terms of my (gendered) image management. The article argues for consideration of the performativity of social research with a need for wider disclosure of the complexities and 'messiness' of qualitative research practices and the emotional labour required.

Gender Relations Among Indian Couples in the UK and India: Ideals of Equality and Realities of Inequality

Katherine Twamley
Sociological Research Online 17 (4) 5

Keywords: Intimacy; Gender Relations; India; South Asians; Second Generation; Equality; Love
Abstract: This paper explores young heterosexual Indian Gujaratis' ideals and experiences of intimate relationships in the UK and India, focusing particularly on gender relations. Men and women in both contexts had similar aspirations of intimacy, but women were likely to be more in favour of egalitarian values. What this meant was interpreted differently in India and the UK. In neither setting, however, was gender equality fully realised in the lives of the participants due to both structural and normative constraints. Despite this gap between ideals and experiences, participants portrayed their relationships as broadly equal and conjugal. It appears that the heavy emphasis on love and intimacy is making it difficult for women to negotiate a more egalitarian relationship with their partner, since any 'flaw' in the relationship potentially brings into question its loving foundations. In this way, women tend to ignore or justify the gendered roles and inequalities apparent in their relationships and paint a picture of blissful marital equality despite evidence to the contrary.

Intersectional Plays of Identity: The Experiences of British Asian Female Footballers

Aarti Ratna
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 13

Keywords: Intersectionality, Performativity, Ontological Complicity, 'race' and Gender, British Asians and Women's Football
Abstract: Debates regarding intersectionality have been widely held in the U.K. and elsewhere for over a decade. However, the value of intersectionality has been questioned as researchers struggle to analyse intersectionality-in-practice. That is, how and why social identities connect in the ways that they do in the everyday lives of women and men. In this paper I argue that the concepts of 'performativity' and 'ontological complicity' offer a useful way of exploring the articulation of identities. I specifically draw on empirical research about the experiences of British Asian female footballers, to signal how their particular identities articulate in and through the spaces of women's football. I argue that by playing-up some identity dispositions and concomitantly playing-down others, British Asian females are able to negotiate inclusion within the spaces of the women's game. However, this does not mean that they automatically become valued insiders. At other times, and in other spaces, their marginalisation from and within the game is clear. I suggest that considering the intersectional plays of identity captures the complex and nuanced operation of discrimination, which is often rendered invisible in women's football.

'Extending the Analytical Lens': A Consideration of the Concepts of 'Care' and 'Intimacy' in Relation to Fathering After Separation or Divorce

Georgia Philip
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 15

Keywords: Divorce, Fathering, Care, Feminist Ethics, Gender, Intimacy, Theorising Family Life
Abstract: This article adds to theoretical debate among British sociologists of families and relationships by considering the analytical potential and positioning of intimacy and care as concepts. Drawing on qualitative data from a study of fathering after separation or divorce, it explores the conceptual value of care as a means to advance understanding of fathering relationships. Raising the question of labour and the question of power, the discussion demonstrates the distinctiveness of care as an analytical tool, alongside, but not equivalent to, intimacy. I argue that intimacy and care are not interchangeable concepts and that care should not be limited as a purely descriptive term. The article presents care as a valuable concept which sheds particular light on the interplay between practical, ethical and emotional dimensions of family relationships, arguing that it has a deeply embedded ethical dimension which lies at the heart of its analytical potential.

Researching 'Ordinary' Young People in a Changing World: The Sociology of Generations and the 'Missing Middle' in Youth Research

Dan Woodman
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 7

Keywords: Young People, Youth, Generation, Ordinariness, Missing Middle, Precariousness, Inequality, Class, Gender
Abstract: Several researchers have pointed to an overemphasis on 'spectacular' elements of youth culture and on 'at-risk' young people, arguing for greater attention to the 'ordinary' in sociological youth research. This article draws upon the Life Patterns Project, a 20-year longitudinal study of transitions in Australia, to argue that both understanding the 'ordinary' experience of youth and contemporary patterns of inequality between young people can be facilitated by a return to ideas from the undervalued legacy of the sociology of generations. Much youth research draws, often implicitly, on a model of youth where the adulthood that is the end point of transitions tends to be taken for granted. Yet, in the context of a rapidly changing labour market, the Life-Patterns participants have had to reshape the meaning of youth and adulthood as the field of possibilities open to them has changed. Understanding this remaking is the basis from which youth research can understand how some young people come to win or lose in contemporary conditions.

Passive, Heterosexual and Female: Constructing Appropriate Childhoods in the 'Sexualisation of Childhood' Debate

Jessica Clark
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 13

Keywords: Sexualisation, Childhood, Gender, Heteronormativity
Abstract: The proliferation of debates surrounding the sexualisation of childhood in the late 20th and early 21st century has led to the commission of a range of investigations into the role of sex and consumer culture in the lives of children and young people. This paper sets out to analyse the dominant ‘sexual scripts’ embedded within four international examples of such reports. It finds that a broad-brush approach to sexualisation appears to render all fashion, consumption, nudity and seemingly embodiment itself, as ‘sexualised’ and therefore inherently problematic. In what is overwhelmingly a negative reading of contemporary media and consumer cultures, the concepts of gender and sexuality remain un-problematised. Within these official discourses girls are constructed as vulnerable and passive whilst boys are ignored, presumably viewed as either unaffected or unimportant. Sexuality as an issue is palpable by its absence and throughout there is a lack of attention to the voices of children in an international debate which should place them at the centre of enquiry. The paper concludes by urging more in-depth consideration of value positions, lacunae and definitions of key concepts in such reports and consultation processes since such critiques have the potential to inform policy making and the gendered and embodied worlds we seek to explore.

Young Men, Sexual Ethics and Sexual Negotiation

Moira Carmody
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 22

Keywords: Young Men, Sexual Negotiation, Masculinities, Sexual Ethics, Violence Prevention
Abstract: This paper explores a research and education project seeking positive ways to engage young men in respectful and ethical negotiation within sexual relationships. The experiences of young men aged 16-25 years of age are explored who took part in the Sex & Ethics Violence Prevention Program which was developed in 2006 and continues to be run in several Australian states and in New Zealand. The Program was designed to assist both young women and men to develop enhanced ethical sexual subjectivity and in the process help them to explore diverse gender possibilities in their intimate relationships. This study is located within the international field of violence prevention education. It considers how the young men who took part in this Program between 2009-2011 responded to the opportunity to reflect on their practices within the context of casual and ongoing sexual relationships. The implications of the study for our understandings of masculinities and gender are explored and how sexual ethics may provide a useful approach to assist young people as they navigate their sexual lives.

Having Your Say: The Social Organisation of Online News Commentary

Allison Cavanagh and Alex Dennis
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 4

Keywords: Opinion, Media, Technology, Internet, News Commentary, Debate, Interaction, Online Forums
Abstract: This paper describes an analysis of poster and recommender activities in an online news forum. Quantitative analyses of patterns of posting and recommending suggest that claims about ‘horizontality’ and ‘online community’ are oversimplifications, as there is strong evidence to suggest that the actual workings of networked discussion communities incorporate a wide range of competing and mutually-contradictory orientations, activities and strategies. A qualitative analysis of particular posters’ rhetorical strategies provides evidence for the argument that an orientation to conventions (in particular using a dialogical mode of address) is more important than actual opinion or semantic content in gaining popularity. The implications of these findings, and some suggestions for how this work might be developed, are discussed.

Girls as the 'New' Agents of Social Change? Exploring the 'Girl Effect' Through Sport, Gender and Development Programs in Uganda

Lyndsay M.C. Hayhurst
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 8

Keywords: Agency, Resistance, Empowerment, Sport for Development, Girl Effect, Gender and Development
Abstract: Increasingly, SGD interventions are funded and implemented by transnational corporations as part of the mounting portfolio of girl-focused global corporate social engagement initiatives in development. The purpose of this study was to explore how girls in Eastern Uganda experience a corporate-funded SGD martial arts program. This study used 19 semi-structured in-depth interviews, participant observation and document analysis. Results revealed that while the martial arts program increased girls' confidence, challenged gender norms, augmented their social networks, improved physical fitness and was useful for providing girls with social entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, the program also attempted to 'govern' their sexuality and sexual relations with boys and men by promoting individual avoidance and encouraging the use of self-defense strategies against potential abusers. Though the program arguably promoted girls as agents of social change, it ignored gender relations by excluding boys, and failed to address the broader structural inequalities that marginalize young Ugandan women the first place.

'The Girl Effect': Exploring Narratives of Gendered Impacts and Opportunities in Neoliberal Development

Farzana Shain
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 9

Keywords: Girls, Empowerment, Neoliberalism, Gender, World Bank, Development
Abstract: This paper explores representations of girls in current discourses of neoliberal development through an analysis of a range of texts that promote the global Girl Effect movement. These representations are situated in the context of theoretical debates about gender mainstreaming and policy developments that construct girls and women's 'empowerment' as 'smart economics'. The paper draws on postcolonial and transnational feminist analyses that critique market-led approaches to development and their complicities in the dynamics of neo-colonialism and uneven development, to contextualise the Girl Effect movement. It is argued that Girl Effect movement draws on colonial stereotypes of girls as sexually and culturally constrained, but reworks these through the discourses of neoliberal development to construct girls as good investment potential. In doing so, it reproduces a dominant narrative that highlights the cultural causes of poverty but obscures structural relations of exploitation and privilege.

Femininity, Childhood and the Non-Making of a Sporting Celebrity: The Beth Tweddle Case

Rachel Lara Cohen
Sociological Research Online 18 (3) 19

Keywords: Sociology of Sport, Gender, Media, Gymnastics, Femininity, Girls
Abstract: Gymnastics is regularly classified as a feminine-appropriate sport, embodying grace and elegance. Furthermore, it is the Olympic sport which has regularly produced female sporting celebrities. Beth Tweddle is the most successful British gymnast of all time and the first to achieve international success, culminating in a medal at London 2012, yet she has received relatively little media coverage and few corporate endorsements. Employing a ‘negative case’ methodology, this athlete’s relative lack of celebrity is investigated. The article suggests that it can be explained by a) contradictions underpinning the gender-designation of gymnastics, and b) the relative invisibility of a core audience for the sport: young girls. An implication is that the achievement of celebrity within ‘feminine’ sport may be increasingly unattainable, especially for female athletes. The article uses mixed methods, including primary analysis of print and social media and secondary analysis of a national survey of young people in the UK.

Outclassed?: Undergraduates' Perceptions of the Competition for Primary Teaching Jobs in England and Wales

Andrew Morrison
Sociological Research Online 18 (3) 6

Keywords: Class, Gender, Teaching, Employability, Higher Education
Abstract: This paper presents the results of a mixed-methods investigation into undergraduates’ perceptions of the competition for Newly Qualified Teacher positions within the primary sector in England and Wales. The study sample was a cohort of final-year Education Studies undergraduates at a post-1992 university in Wales. All of the participants aimed to become primary school teachers. The study’s rationale lies in evidence that teaching is becoming more competitive while offering less security. The study revealed that the students had a realistic view of the labour market for NQT positions, showing awareness of the increasing demands placed upon the cultural, social and material resources of potential entrants Although this knowledge did not deter the students, it is concluded that developments within teaching may ultimately deter working-class students. This has worrying implications for the composition of the teaching profession and, in turn, for wider issues of social justice within education.

Occupational Mobility at Migration - Evidence from Spain

Mikolaj Stanek and Alberto Veira Ramos
Sociological Research Online 18 (4) 16

Keywords: Migration Occupational Mobility, Spain, Labour Market Segmentation, Human Capital, Social Capital,, Gender Gap
Abstract: This article provides insight into the determinants of occupational mobility recorded for immigrants between their last job in the region of origin and their first job in Spain. Multinomial and bivariate logistic regression models are applied to identify the strongest predictors of upward and downward mobility when immigrants move from one country's labour market to another. This study's empirical analysis was carried out using data from the Spanish National Immigrant Survey of 2007. Our results show that ethnic segmentation in the Spanish labour market negatively affects the occupational mobility of immigrants. Secondly, we observe that non EU15 immigrants are at higher risk of downward mobility. Thirdly, higher levels of education offer protection against downward mobility and increase the chance for upgrading. Finally, contrary to our predictions, social capital embedded in support received from friends and relatives who reside in the destination country increases the risk of occupational downgrading and reduces the possibility of upward mobility.

George Herbert Mead on Humans and Other Animals: Social Relations After Human-Animal Studies

Rhoda Wilkie and Andrew McKinnon
Sociological Research Online 18 (4) 19

Keywords: Mead, Symbolic Interactionism, Human-Animal Studies, Animal Turn
Abstract: The turn towards nonhuman animals within sociology has shed a critical light on George Herbert Mead, his apparent prioritisation of language and the anthropocentric focus of Symbolic Interactionism (SI). Although Herbert Blumer canonised Mead as the founder of this perspective he also played a key role in excising the evolutionary and 'more-than-human' components in Mead's work. This intervention not only misrepresented Mead's intellectual project, it also made symbols the predominant concern in Blumer's version of SI. Since groundbreaking animal sociologists in America framed much of their thinking in opposition to SI's emphasis on language, because it excluded alingual animal others from sociological consideration, Mead's Mind, Self, and Society has largely functioned as a negative classic within this sub-field. Although some scholars recognise there is more in Mead's work that is potentially applicable to this interspecies area the attempt to recover what might be helpful has yet to begin (e.g. Alger & Alger 1997). This paper suggests that if the ambiguities and contradictions that exist alongside Mead's oft-quoted anthropocentrisms are also attended to this may open up a more positive reading and use of Mead's work for animal sociology.

Analysing 'Seriousness' in Roller Derby: Speaking Critically with the Serious Leisure Perspective

Maddie Breeze
Sociological Research Online 18 (4) 23

Keywords: Seriousness, Roller Derby, Serious Leisure Perspective, Sport, Gender
Abstract: This article draws on original ethnographic research in the context of roller derby to argue for a sociological analysis of seriousness. Galvanized by the notable divergence between participants’ practices of ‘seriousness’ and the use of this concept in the Serious Leisure Perspective (SLP), the article develops three constructively critical points. Firstly, contra to assumptions at the core of the SLP, ‘seriousness’ in leisure is differently accessible according to familiar intersectional patterns of inequality. Moreover, roller derby occupies a position of gendered alterity in relation to a broader cultural field of sport; ‘getting taken seriously’ in this context is an issue of gender contestation. Secondly, while the normative assumption that seriousness in leisure is individually and socially ‘good’ pervades the SLP, I argue that seriousness is more accurately understood as a generative ‘mode of ordering’ (Law 1994). I analyse seriousness as one discursive resource drawn upon and enacted in participants’ organizational and representational practice. Thirdly seriousness cannot be defined, as the SLP does, predominantly in terms of commitment; commitment is an interactional achievement. Participants’ enactments of seriousness include tactics of ridicule and satire and do not necessarily cohere. This paper thus responds to the question of what a more sociological approach to seriousness might look like and argues that seriousness-in-practice, in leisure and elsewhere, is generative of multiple and ambivalent effects and is thus amenable to, and requires, sociological analysis.

Social Theory or Attitudinal Types: A Case Study of Attitudes Towards Relationships

Laura Watt and Mark Elliot
Sociological Research Online 19 (1) 13

Keywords: Relationships, Attitudes, Couples, Intimacy, Individualisation, Confluent Love
Abstract: Sociological theories can be viewed as models of (sub)-populations. In this paper we explore the possibility of representing social theories as attitudinal types rather than as descriptions of society at large. To test this idea we investigate the relevance of four different theories of couple relationships to the attitudes of 18 to 30 year olds. Rather than testing these theories via aggregate social trends, we investigate the plausibility of treating the four social theories as attitudinal types that can be used to distinguish between the thoughts and feelings of different young adults. A self-completion attitude measure is created and used to gather data from a pilot sample of 18 to 30 year olds living in Preston, UK (n=306). Cluster analysis is then used to identify potential attitude types from among the respondents which are discussed in relation to the four theories.

Learning to Be Affected: Masculinities, Music and Social Embodiment

Sam de Boise
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 11

Keywords: Masculinities, Gender, Hegemonic Masculinity, Social Embodiment, Music, Affect
Abstract: Connell's concept of hegemonic masculinity remains a pervasive influence in critical studies on men and masculinities (CSMM). However as Connell and Messerschmidt note, one of the key drawbacks of the approach is that it lacks an adequate theory of 'social embodiment'. Subsequent authors have explored how masculinities entail bodily control and regulation but this often reproduces the Cartesian divide between mind and body that CSMM is highly critical of. On the other hand, poststructuralist critiques often see the body as entirely constructed through discourse, undermining the problem of gendered, embodied experience. This article suggests that literature on affect is a means of moving between these two approaches in order to see masculinities as corporeally experienced through power relations, but ultimately not entirely reducible to them. Drawing on 6 life history case studies from a larger research project, the article demonstrates how 'learning to be affected' by music is an embodied process which relies fundamentally on learning physiological experience through social interaction. This highlights the potential for both re-producing and transforming gendered performances and offers a new theoretical framework for conceptualising masculinities in the field of CSMM.

The Morality of the Social in Critical Accounts of Popular Music

Andrew Whelan
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 14

Keywords: Critique of Neoliberalism, Discourse Analysis, Ethnomethodology, Marxist Sociology of Culture, Popular Music, Sociology of Aesthetics, Sociology of Popular Music, Talk About Music, Talk-In-Interaction, Texts-As-Read
Abstract: Talk about music, broadly understood, is commonly conducted and regarded as a neutral or transparent window on its topic. However, both vernacular and formal-analytic scholarly accounts constitute music as morally significant, and in doing so, articulate particular narratives of the social. One such contextual frame of reference for talking about music is presented and described here as ‘art vs. commerce’. A close analysis is conducted of a sentence in a recent academic paper (with attention to its conceptual buttressing in antecedent texts), and of the opening of a research interview with a musician, so as to show how contemporary articulations of this framework operate, and to demonstrate that vernacular and sociological forms of such thinking are contiguous, and can be taken as analytical objects in their own right. The intellectual and cultural mechanics of this moral work conducted by the articulation of art vs. commerce are highlighted and evaluated. The argument is not that such forms of talk or writing about music are to be ‘cleared out of the way’ so that music can finally be attended to, but rather that these forms of talk serve to constitute the fields of meaning within which music is understood.

Flanking Gestures: Gender and Emotion in Fieldwork

Terressa Benz
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 15

Keywords: Fieldwork, Gender, Emotion, Rapport, Access
Abstract: Fieldwork is wrought with challenges and emotional obstacles. Techniques of dealing with these logistical challenges are well discussed in the literature; however, rarely are the emotions involved in fieldwork explored, nor are the specific techniques for dealing with this emotional fallout. In this paper, I explore not only the emotions of fieldwork, specifically as a woman in a male dominated research setting, but actual tactics for dealing with these feelings-- tactics I call “flanking gestures.” Flanking gestures are techniques that allow the researcher to blur and stretch their gender, which I suggest provides a certain amount of emotional relief in the field.

Cognitive, Affective and Eudemonic Well-Being in Later Life: Measurement Equivalence over Gender and Life Stage

Bram Vanhoutte and James Nazroo
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 4

Keywords: Subjective Well-Being, Measurement, Gender, Third Age, Second Order, Confirmatory Factor Analysis
Abstract: The hedonic view on well-being, consisting of both cognitive and affective aspects, assumes that through maximizing pleasurable experiences, and minimizing suffering, the highest levels of well-being can be achieved. The eudemonic approach departs from the concept of a good life that is not just about pleasure and happiness, but involves developing one-self, being autonomous and realizing one’s potential. While these approaches are often positioned against each other on theoretical grounds, this paper investigates the empirical plausibility of this two dimensional view on subjective well-being. The interrelations between common measures such as the General Health Questionnaire, the CES-D inventory of depressive symptoms, the satisfaction with life scale and the eudemonic CASP scale are examined in a confirmatory factor analysis framework using the third wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). A multidimensional structure of well-being, distinguishing cognitive, affective and eudemonic well-being, is shown to be the best fitting empirical solution. This three dimensional second order structure is neutral to gender in its measurement. A lower influence of feeling energetic on self-actualisation, and of somatic symptoms of depression on affective well-being was noted for respondents in the fourth age () in comparison to respondents in the third age (). These small measurement artefacts underline that somatic symptoms of later life depression should be distinguished from mood symptoms. Two main social facts are confirmed when we compare the different forms of well-being over gender and life stage: men tend to have a higher level of well-being than women, and well-being is lower in the fourth age than in the third age. Although the three measures are very closely related, with high correlations between .74 and .88, they each have their specific meaning. While affective and cognitive well-being emphasize the use of an internal yardstick to measure well-being, the eudemonic perspective adds an external dimension. As each measure has an own story to tell, we advocate the use of these multiple assessments of well-being.

Parenting, Play and the Work-Family Interaction

Stefano Ba'
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 7

Keywords: Work-Family Interaction, Play, Parenting, Children’s Activities, Gender
Abstract: This article explores the recreational time of parents with young children and the ways it can influence practices reconciling work and family. The aim is to examine the internal dynamics and the emotional side of family life vis- -vis parents’ time structures. Children’s organised and spontaneous activities have received scant attention in work-family studies and this lack of conceptual development around the quality of time use is unfortunate, if we take the work-family interaction to be more than the sum of strategies aiming at balancing both domains. In this analytical framework special attention is then placed on play and on the activities parents set up with children during their recreational time. We find that especially play and loosely structured recreational time becomes important for parents because this time strongly characterises their home experience and through it they construct emotional bonds with their children. In this research, the concepts of ‘parent-initiated play’ will be introduced and used to find that play and activities with children are linked to asymmetric gender practices of care and bonding. The dual nature of parents’ time with children is considered crucial in understanding the construction of family life and the strains around the work-family interaction.

Garden Stories: Auto/biography, Gender and Gardening

Mark Bhatti
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 12

Keywords: Garden, Gender, Auto/biography, Leisure, Narrative, Home
Abstract: Life writing in the form of a single garden story is used in this paper to examine the garden as a powerful theme in gendered leisure. I explore the ways in which garden narratives in the form of auto/biography can represent new identities in everyday life. One women's life story is (re)told; about her childhood, her home and family, and her work in the garden. I conclude that life stories contained in the Mass Observation Archive (big and small) are useful ways of studying gendered lives to gain deeper understandings of the uses and meanings of leisure spaces in and around the home.

Thinking with 'White Dee': The Gender Politics of 'Austerity Porn'

Kim Allen, Imogen Tyler and Sara De Benedictis
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 2

Keywords: Austerity, Media, Gender, Welfare, Care, Social Class
Abstract: Focusing on Benefits Street, and specifically the figure of White Dee, this rapid response article offers a feminist analysis of the relationship between media portrayals of people living with poverty and the gender politics of austerity. To do this we locate and unpick the paradoxical desires coalescing in the making and remaking of the figure of 'White Dee' in the public sphere. We detail how Benefits Street operates through forms of classed and gendered shaming to generate public consent for the government's welfare reform. However, we also examine how White Dee functions as a potential object of desire and figure of feminist resistance to the transformations in self and communities engendered by neoliberal social and economic policies. In this way, we argue that these public struggles over White Dee open up spaces for urgent feminist sociological enquiries into the gender politics of care, labour and social reproduction.

Working at Pleasure in Young Women’s Alcohol Consumption: A Participatory Visual Ethnography

Angus Bancroft, Mariah Jade Zimpfer, Orla Murray and Martina Karels
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 20

Keywords: Alcohol, Pleasure, Gender, Women, Students
Abstract: This paper reports on a participatory ethnography conducted with undergraduate students. It examined the rituals and habits through which they constructed their intoxication culture. Students used video recording devices such as smartphones to collect data about aspects of their intoxication experiences. They were then interviewed about emerging analytical themes. In this paper we focus on one aspect of intoxication culture, the place of pleasure in women’s accounts. We build on previous research that showed that pleasure was present but not always dominant in women’s accounts of leisure focused drinking. They experienced the predominant, neo-liberal concept of pleasure as a demand which had to be navigated alongside their own desires which could include a preference for a more situated, intimate, sociability. Pre-drinking occasions were especially significant as places where bonds could be built up and body and self prepared to enter the public night-time economy. For many, this preparation became the main, enjoyable event in contrast to sometimes fraught and demanding public drinking spaces, where women could find themselves subject to various critical judgements about their femininity. Their activities on these occasions focused on achieving a ‘good drunk’, a manageable state of group intoxication. We use these findings to comment critically on the gendering of the night-time economy, the narrow framing of ‘pleasure’ in it, and the commodification of student experience in the UK.

Exploring Gender in Portuguese Bedrooms: Men’s and Women’s Narratives of Their Sexuality Through a Mixed Methods Approach

Violeta Alarcão, Ana Virgolino, Luis Roxo, Fernando L. Machado and Alain Giami
Sociological Research Online 20 (2) 8

Keywords: Intimacy, (Double Standard Of) Sexual Behavior, Scripting Theory, Sexual Experiences, Gender, Portugal
Abstract: The nature of intimacy and self-identity changed profoundly over the past century. The disruption between sex and procreation enabled the emergence of new forms of relationships and contributed towards the legitimacy of a sexuality focused on pleasure, as a mean of self-realization and an expression of intimacy. Despite the evidence that most individuals now approach close relations with expectations of mutual emotional support and romantic love, intimate relationships remain highly gendered, particularly in societies where traditional roles of men and women persist in the growing diversity of sexual relationships. To address this topic, an empirical research was conducted in the Greater Lisbon area using a mixed methods approach. First, a quantitative study, with 323 primary healthcare users, intended to explain how gender influences self-constructions of sexuality and intimacy. Then, a qualitative study, with a subsample of 10 heterosexual men and 15 heterosexual women, employed in-depth interviews to explore how individuals construct their etiquette of sexual behavior. Building upon Gagnon and Simon’s scripting theory and Giddens’ transformations of intimacy, along with feminist criticisms concerning male dominance in hetero-relationships, we have reached an explanatory typology that focuses on Portuguese specificity in terms of the subjective experience of sexuality and intimate relationships. Sexuality and intimacy are complex and multifaceted phenomena that are affected by sexual and non-sexual factors, both in and out of the bedroom. Key findings reveal a coexistence of highly gendered sexual scripts with increasingly more egalitarian sexual roles, namely among the youngest and the most educated generations in Portuguese society.

‘Justin Bieber Sounds Girlie’: Young People’s Celebrity Talk and Contemporary Masculinities

Kim Allen, Laura Harvey and Heather Mendick
Sociological Research Online 20 (3) 12

Keywords: Affect, Celebrity, Youth, Masculinity, Sexuality, Gender
Abstract: In this article, we explore the ways that contemporary young masculinities are performed and regulated through young people’s relationship with celebrity. We address the relative paucity of work on young men’s engagements with popular culture. Drawing on qualitative data from group interviews with 148 young people (aged 14-17) in England, we identify ‘celebrity talk’ as a site in which gender identities are governed, negotiated and resisted. Specifically we argue that celebrity as a space of imagination can bring to the study of masculinities a focus on their affective and collective mobilisation. Unpicking young men’s and women’s talk about Canadian pop star Justin Bieber and British boyband One Direction, we show how disgust and humour operate as discursive-affective practices which open up and close down certain meanings and identities. We conclude that while there have been shifts in the ways that masculinities are performed and regulated, hierarchies of masculinities anchored through hegemonic masculinity remain significant.

Introduction to Special Section Gender, Intimacy, Equality: (Un)comfortable Bedfellows?

Katherine Twamley and Charlotte Faircloth
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 2

Keywords: Gender, Intimacy, Equality, Love
Abstract: [No abstract]

Negotiating Intimacy, Equality and Sexuality in the Transition to Parenthood

Charlotte Faircloth
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 3

Keywords: Parenting, Gender, Intimacy, Equality, Sex, Couples
Abstract: Whilst both ‘parenting’ and ‘intimacy’ have been explored extensively in recent social scientific research (for example, Lee et al 2014, Gabb and Silva 2011), their intersections in the context of family life remain curiously absent. This paper presents findings from on-going longitudinal research with parents in London, which investigates how the care of children, and particularly the feeding of infants, affects the parental couple’s ‘intimate’ relationship. In particular, as part of this special section, it looks at couples’ accounts of sex as they make the transition to parenthood, as a lens on the themes of gender, intimacy and equality. Far from being an easy relationship between them, as predicted by some scholars, this research shows that they are in fact, ‘uncomfortable bedfellows’.

Desires, Expectations and the Sexual Practices of Married and Cohabiting Heterosexual Women

Jenny van Hooff
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 4

Keywords: Sexual Practices, Heterosexuality, Couples, Women, Relationships, Gender
Abstract: This article draws on qualitative interviews in order to analyse the ways in which heterosexual women reconcile their everyday lived sexual practices, expectations and desires. Focusing on the accounts of twenty women in long-term relationships, analysis suggests that the sexual practices of the women interviewed continue to be largely conducted within a dominant heteronormative framework. This runs contrary to claims about the democratisation or queering of sexual relations (Giddens 1992; Roseneil 2000). I argue that participants’ sexual desires and expectations are undermined by essentialist understandings of masculinity and femininity, with shifts in the outward forms of heterosexuality having a limited impact upon sexual practices which continue to be entrenched in heteronormative ideals.

Considerations of Equality in Heterosexual Single Mothers’ Intimacy Narratives

Charlotte Morris
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 6

Keywords: Gender, Intimacy, Equality, Single Motherhood
Abstract: This paper explores experiences and expectations of equality within the intimacy narratives of UK single mothers. A perceived lack of equality was often cited by participants as a contributing factor in relationship breakdown, contradicting notions of increasing democracy (Giddens, 1992). For those who had grown up aspiring to egalitarian relationships, experiences of inequality engendered disappointment. Yet narratives simultaneously contained longings for the perceived certainty of traditional gendered roles associated with more stable, committed, enduring relationships - an ideal model of intimacy against which intimate lives were measured. Narratives were therefore marked by ambivalence as participants navigated their way through different understandings of intimacy, while managing challenging situations. While equality in intimate relationships was viewed as a possibility by some, participants often felt it was out of reach due to a lack of suitable potential partners. For others achieving stability in relationships was the main priority. This article therefore argues that commentators who two decades ago heralded a brave new world of equality in intimate lives (Giddens, 1992) were overly optimistic; the narratives discussed here reveal a more contextualised, complex and uneven picture of contemporary intimacies.

A Changing Landscape of Intimacy: The Case of a Single Mother by Choice

Linda L. Layne
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 7

Keywords: Intimacy, Single Mothers by Choice, Heterosexuality, Landscape, Friendship, Co-Sleeping
Abstract: American women who purposely undertake motherhood without the involvement of a male partner tend to be beneficiaries of second-wave feminist achievements in the areas of expanded educational and employment opportunities. I draw on an in-depth, longitudinal case study of one such Single Mother by Choice (SMC)to explore how the opportunities she has enjoyed and professional achievements she has attained have shaped her ‘intimate landscape.’ Intimacy means ‘innermost,’ and refers to a spatial relationship, whether physical and or metaphorical. ‘Landscape’ refers to ‘all the visible features of an area’ and ‘the distinctive features of a particular situation or intellectual activity.’ Together Carmen and I engaged in topography, producing a detailed description of the arrangement of the features of this area of her life—the intimate physical and emotional relations with her children, her dog, her mother, and close emotional relationships with her siblings and their families, some friends, and members of her church.

Gender, Occupation and First Birth: Do ‘Career Men’ Delay First Birth Too?

Kevin Ralston, Vernon Gayle and Paul Lambert
Sociological Research Online 21 (1) 3

Keywords: First Birth, Childbearing, Occupation, Gender, Fertility, Scotland
Abstract: In the period following the turn of the Century European total fertility rates (TFR) dropped to well below replacement. Work examining this highlights that cohort postponement in births contributes to low TFRs. It is generally recognised that women in more advantaged occupations often postpone childbearing in contrast to those in less advantaged occupational groups. However, relatively little research has been conducted on men in similar terms. This paper contrasts the timing of first birth by occupational class between men and women using individual level data in a case study of Scotland. The data are an extract from the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS). This provides a 5.3% sample of the population of Scotland from the 1991 Census. The research applies the Cox proportional hazard model to estimate the speed to first birth during a period of observation between 1991 and 2006. Class is measured using NS-SEC 8 class analytic version. The model controls marital status, educational attainment, raised religion and urban-rural geography. It is found that ‘career men’ who occupy more advantaged occupational positions do not delay first birth in contrast to men in other occupational categories. This is in contrast to the well-known phenomenon of career women who have later childbearing. Our analysis shows that gender inequalities in how the social structure influences childbearing offer an avenue of explanation for wider patterns of social inequality.

Beyond ‘Token’ Firefighters: Exploring Women’s Experiences of Gender and Identity at Work

Tamika Perrott
Sociological Research Online 21 (1) 4

Keywords: Work, Tokenism, Gender, Identity, Firefighting, Women
Abstract: Despite the increasing percentage of women entering masculinized workplaces, certain organizations consistently see little change in the gender makeup of their staff. Contemporary scholarship suggests that women in rigidly gendered organizations are often assigned a token status and are victimized due to their gender. This study relocates the conversations of women as tokens towards a fresh conversation of women’s agency in masculinized workplaces. This paper uses ten qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork to discuss how female firefighters navigate their gender at work. This article draws on reflexive accounts of everyday gendered negotiations to look at how the female firefighters ‘do gender’ within a specific fire service in Australia. I argue that emergency services, such as firefighting, create a contradictory field where women are located in (1) a paradoxical environment where the ‘female body’ is problematized (2) a work environment where they have to repeatedly prove their cultural competence in order to confirm their professional identity. The findings suggest that while female firefighters do have agency, tokenism locates many of them in a ‘never quite there’ bind that challenges their ability to progress into leadership roles within the service. This article concludes that the nuanced difference between, and at times, within the women’s narratives problematizes the bounds of personal agency and cultural change. This consequently results in resistance to policies by some women that may benefit like-situated women, such as affirmative action.

Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain

Laura Oso
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 11

Keywords: Sex Work, Prostitution, Gender, Migration, Quality of Work, Latin-American Women, Transnational
Abstract: The aim of this article is to analyse the quality of work of two of the main types of female sex work in Spain (clubs and in-call flats). In order to do so I will focus on the following working dimensions: wages, power relations, skills, alienation, health, violence, work life and stigma. Firstly, the article seeks to highlight the structural factors that condition the quality of work of Latin American female sex workers in Spain. These factors are closely connected to policies regarding migration and sex work, which foment irregular work arrangements (undocumented migrants and informal workers). Secondly, I analyse entry formats (indebted or autonomous migration) and how they impact on working conditions. Thirdly, the article considers the migrant women’s work choices and the resulting living and working conditions they may encounter. I intend to show that Latin American women sex workers in Spain might opt for a certain type of work within the context of strategic decisions, as linked to their migratory and social mobility projects. These decisions have a family and a transnational scope (country of origin, country of destination). The analysis presented is based on qualitative fieldwork (semi-structured interviews) carried out in Galicia (north-west Spain).

New Ways of Doing the “Good” and Gender Equal Family: Parents Employing Nannies and Au Pairs in Sweden

Sara Eldén and Terese Anving
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 2

Keywords: Care Work, Parenting, Gender Equality, Au Pairs/nannies, Family Practices, Welfare State
Abstract: The last decade, Nordic families have started to employ nannies and au pairs to an extent previously never experienced. Political initiatives such as tax deductions for household services, together with global trends of “care chains”, have created a private market for care services, which have made it possible for families to hire cheap female, and often migrant, care labour. In the case of Sweden, this is an indication of a re-familializing trend in politics of care and family; a move away from a social democratic welfare regime, towards the privatized and marketized care/family solutions of other Western countries. This qualitative study of Swedish families who hire nannies/au pairs shows how the dual earner/dual carer family is being replaced by a dual earner/privately outsourced care family, a shift that requires particular forms of accounting for their practices on the part of the parents, related to the discourse of gender equality as well as narratives of what is ‘best for children’. This, we argue, indicates that gender equality and “good care” for children is increasingly becoming a class privilege.

The Unknown Victims: Hegemonic Masculinity, Masculinities, and Male Sexual Victimisation

Aliraza Javaid
Sociological Research Online 22 (1) 1

Keywords: Policing, Male Rape, Gender Hierarchy, Gender Expectations, Identity
Abstract: This paper adopts the theoretical framework of hegemonic masculinity to elucidate and make sense of male sexual victimisation. Critically evaluating the empirical data, which comprises of police officers and practitioners in voluntary agencies (N = 70), that this paper offers, I argue that gender expectations, hegemonic masculinities and sexism prevail in societies, state and voluntary agencies. It has been found that, because male rape victims embody subordinate masculinities, they are marginalised as ‘abnormal’ and ‘deviant’. They are, in other words, classified as the ‘other’ for challenging and contradicting hegemonic masculinity, disrupting the gender order of men. Consequently, male sexual victimisation is not taken seriously in services, policy and practice, whilst the victims of this crime type are relegated in the gender hierarchy. As a result, male rape victims suffer a ‘masculinity crisis’ in the context of male rape. This paper attempts to open up a dialogue regarding male rape and male sexual assault, to challenge hegemonic masculinity, and to bring male rape ‘out of the closet’.

Interrogating Trans and Sexual Identities Through the Conceptual Lens of Translocational Positionality

Michaela Rogers and Anya Ahmed
Sociological Research Online 22 (1) 4

Keywords: Trans/transgender, Gender Diversity, Translocational Positionality, Identity, Sexuality, Sexual Orientation
Abstract: This article explores the confluence of trans identity and sexuality drawing on the concept of translocational positionality. In this discussion, a broad spectrum of gendered positionalities incorporates trans identity which, in turn, acknowledges normative male and female identities as well as non-binary ones. It is also recognised, however, that trans identity overlaps with other positionalities (pertaining to sexuality, for example) to shape social location. In seeking to understand subject positions, a translocational lens acknowledges the contextuality and temporality of social categories to offer an analysis which recognises the overlaps and differentials of co-existing positionalities. This approach enables an analysis which explores how macro, or structural, contexts shape agency (at the micro-level) and also how both are mediated by trans people's multiple and shifting positionalities. In this framing, positionality represents a meso layer between structure and agency. Four case studies are presented using data from a qualitative study which explored trans people's experiences of family, intimacy and domestic abuse. We offer an original contribution to the emerging knowledge-base on trans sexuality by presenting data from four case studies. We do so whilst innovatively applying the conceptual lens of translocational positionality to an analysis which considers macro, meso and micro levels of influence.

'Just One?' Solo Dining, Gender and Temporal Belonging in Public Spaces

Kinneret Lahad and Vanessa May
Sociological Research Online 22 (2) 12

Keywords: Belonging, Participation Unit,, Solo Dining, Time, Time, Gendered Respectability
Abstract: In recent years, various lifestyle websites have offered tips on eating out alone as well as lists of the best restaurants for solo dining in major cities of the world. Utilising the theoretical concepts of participation units, territories of the self (Goffman, 1972[1971]) and belonging (Author B, 2011, 2013), this paper explores the challenges that spatio-temporal conventions pose for women solo diners in particular. Through the lens of solo dining, we explore being alone and belonging in shared public spaces, and the gendered nature of aloneness and respectability. The paper contributes to existing theory by examining the influence that time has on a woman solo diner’s ‘single’ participation unit, her ability to lay claim to public space and her relationship with the surrounding social environment. The paper concludes by exploring what the new trend of solo dining can offer and the consequences this has for how sociologists conceputalise sociality in public spaces.

Doing Gender in a Hospital Setting: Reflections of a Male Researcher

Gareth M. Thomas
Sociological Research Online 22 (2) 14

Keywords: Emotions, Ethnography, Gender, Identity, Male Researcher, Reflexivity
Abstract: Very little attention has been afforded to how male researchers actively position their gender in their studies, particularly in ethnographic research located within settings populated largely by women. In this article, I reflect on my own gender work during an ethnography of prenatal clinics and how this was articulated with other aspects of my researcher self. By reporting on the successes and failures of this performance, I argue that my gender constituted an essential element in the everyday negotiations between myself and female participants. In so doing, I suggest that reflexive commentaries of how researchers perform gender should not be viewed as a form of egotistic self-indulgence. Rather, they should be read as valuable statements for rendering the researcher visible and, here, for revealing how issues of doing gender play out during fieldwork.

Friendship, Gender and Sexual Experience: Retrospective Narratives About the Formation of a Sexual Self During Youth

Verónica Policarpo
Sociological Research Online 22 (2) 8

Keywords: Friendship, Friendship Practices, Gender, Sexual Experience, Sexual Self, Youth
Abstract: In this article, I explore the ways in which friendship contributes to shaping the boundaries of men’s and women’s sexual experiences. Using inputs from the sociology of experience and the sociology of friendship, I explore qualitative data from a research about sexuality in Portugal, in which I collected sexual biographies of 35 men and women, aged 30-55. In the in-depth interviews, these adult participants, possessing secondary and tertiary education, and living in urban areas, reflected retrospectively about their sexual biography, including their childhood and youth. The main thesis is that the practices of friendship (which structure those relationships as social facts) also help to structure sexual practices and representations and, through them, to construct the contemporary sexual self. Those practices may be discursive (‘talking’ and ‘chatting’), or rather oriented to action (‘doing things together’). In this article, I focus on discursive friendship practices, and how they contribute to shaping contemporary sexual experience. Drawing on F. Dubet’s sociology of experience, I argue that this relationship is defined in the tension along three dimensions: integration, strategy and subjectivation. This process is cross-cut by gender, as discursive friendship practices interact differently with the dimensions of sexual experience, in that strategy mainly reinforces definitions and enactment of hegemonic forms of masculinity, while subjectivation helps to challenge them and to build plural gender experiences (both feminine and masculine).

What is Food Without Love? The Micro-Politics of Food Practices in South Asians in Britain, India and Pakistan

Punita Chowbey
Sociological Research Online ()

Keywords: Ood, Power, Gender, Resources, Intimacy, Ethnicity
Abstract: This paper draws on Morgan's theorisation of family life as consisting of political, moral and emotional economies (Morgan 2001) to examine the interplay of women's control over resources, gender norms and expectations of intimacy in the context of household food consumption. The research that informs the paper focuses on findings from 84 interviews with two South Asian groups: Pakistani Muslim and Gujarati Hindu women with at least one dependent child and from a variety of occupations and household compositions. In examining everyday food consumption, the research demonstrates how gender hierarchies are reproduced by parallel, mutually reinforcing, political, moral and emotional economies. The women in the study sometimes struggled to subvert gender oppression and negotiate more powerful positions within the household through food management and/or employing manipulative and deceptive tactics. The paper argues that, while access to economic resources is important if women are to achieve desirable food and nutritional outcomes, it is not in itself sufficient to meet this aim. Instead, the interplay of resources, gender norms and conjugal relations are central to household food consumption.

Emotions, Everyday Life and the Social Web: Age, Gender and Social Web Engagement Effect on Emotional Expression

Roser Beneito-Montagut
Sociological Research Online ()

Keywords: Emotions Online, Online Social Interaction, Social Web, Gender, Age, Social Web Engagement
Abstract: Emotional expression is key to the maintenance and development of interpersonal relationships online. This study develops and applies a novel analytical framework for the study of emotional expression on the social web in everyday life. The analytical framework proposed is based on previous ethnographic work and the self-reported measurement of the visual cues, action cues and verbal cues that people use to express emotions on the social web. It is empirically tested, using an online survey of Spanish frequent Internet users (n=301). The analysis focuses particularly on how age, gender and social web engagement relate to emotional expression during online social interactions. We find that both personal characteristics (age and gender) as well as levels of social web usage affect emotional communication online. The effect size is particularly strong for gender. The paper illustrates and reflects upon the potential of the proposed analytical framework for unveiling norms and strategies in online interaction rituals.

Reflexive Dialogues: Interaction and Writing as External Components of Personal Reflexivity

Ana Caetano
Sociological Research Online ()

Keywords: Reflexivity, External Conversations, Writing Practices, Internal Conversations, Interaction
Abstract: Margaret Archer’s work suggests that reflexivity is exercised through internal dialogues, in which subjects talk to themselves in order to clarify ideas, mull over problems, make plans and take decisions. The present article argues that the exercise of reflexive competences is not limited to the privacy of individual minds, but that there is also an external component, which can lend the concept a broader analytical scope. Using the results of qualitative research focused on the social mechanisms of personal reflexivity, including biographical interviews, the paper examines two other modalities of exercising reflexivity: external conversations in interaction contexts, and writing practices (autobiographical, creative, communicational, and organisational). It also looks at the differential activation of reflexivity according to both the subjects’ different positions in social space and inter and intra-contextual variations.