Despite a shift in expectations about men’s increased involvement in care and family life, particularly in fatherhood, there is very little evidence about men’s diverse care responsibilities; the meanings, experiences and patterns of providing care over time; or how men might be best supported with those responsibilities when they are living on a low-income.  Previous research evidence indicates that the dual imperative for men to both earn and care can be particularly problematic for working-class fathers, who struggle to fulfil these norms. Yet such assumptions fail to acknowledge that men are embedded in a wider network of interdependencies and engage in numerous care roles across the life course.

The main aim of the ‘Men, Poverty and Lifetimes of Care’ study is to explore the dynamics of continuity and change in men’s care responsibilities when living on a low-income, with the following objectives:

  • To address an important and under researched topic – men’s care responsibilities in low-income families;
  • To find out what men do with their time when they are not working in order to assess the extent to which worklessness is risky for men and for those who have relationships with them;
  • To understand the impact that men’s insecure work trajectories have on their familial and social relationships over time;
  • To address these gaps in knowledge in ways that are theoretically engaged, empirically innovative and policy relevant.

Core method

Qualitative longitudinal research conducted in three phases;

  1. Secondary analysis of existing qualitative evidence (from the Timescapes archive),
  2. Interviews with ‘key informants’ working for the third sector and other support agencies who work with men to understand the local policy and practice context,
  3. Two waves of in-depth interviews with men living on a low-income in the north of England, combined with other creative methods such as relational mapping and photo voice.

As a result of employing a novel methodology involving secondary analysis of Timescapes datasets to develop the research design, the study is affiliated with two existing research studies. These are Following Young Fathers and Intergenerational Exchange.

The project was based in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds between October 2014 to December 2016. Due to employment changes by the PI, it is now funded by the University of Lincoln, with support from the Leverhulme Trust.

Findings and project outputs will be published on this website as the project develops so watch this space. You can also follow us on Twitter; @menpovcare