The following text has been reproduced from a pamphlet called ‘Existing Evidence’ that I shared at the knowledge-exchange workshop discussed in Chapter 4.
Men, Poverty and Lifetimes of Care
While a growing body of qualitative research is beginning to emerge about the ‘lived experiences’ of low-income families living in poverty, the experiences of family men (that is, fathers and grandfathers) and the cumulative effects of living in conditions of poverty and disadvantage are still significant gaps in knowledge.
In response, two sets of archived qualitative longitudinal data, held in a research archive at the University of Leeds (Timescapes), have been analysed: (1) to explore men's everyday and long-term experiences of family life when living on a low-income and (2) to generate new research questions that derive from, and take into account, these findings. The first dataset, Following Young Fathers (FYF), provides evidence of the experiences of teenage fathers; the second, IGE, contains narratives of the lived experiences of mid-life grandparents (including grandfathers). Both sets of participants live in low-income localities in a northern city in England, and the datasets when brought together show the diverse ways in which men experience poverty and social exclusion over time, influencing the extent of support and care that they can provide and that they also receive.
In this pamphlet I present fragments of the stories of the men from both datasets to demonstrate that men value their roles as fathers and grandfathers but that, over time, they struggle to balance their responsibilities within particularly constrained circumstances. My intention is that these findings resonate with you and your own practice, and it would be really beneficial to explore those questions that you think will best support you, both in your practice and in policy making. All of the quotations used in this pamphlet are from the participants that were interviewed for the two archived projects and have been anonymised.
Men are committed to the people in their families and value their roles as fathers and grandfathers
Across the datasets, men engage in a range of care practices. Most of the men are fathers and grandfathers and they value these roles highly. They describe parenting as a process, and one that is learnt over time. For young men, fathering is a positive and valued role.