What happens to punks, clubbers, goths, riot grrls, soulies, break-dancers and queer scene participants as they become older? For decades, research on spectacular 'youth cultures' has understood such groups as adolescent phenomena and assumed that involvement ceases with the onset of adulthood. In an age of increasingly complex life trajectories, Ageing and Youth Cultures is the first anthology to challenge such thinking by examining the lives of those who continue to participate into adulthood and middle-age. Showcasing a range of original research case studies from across the globe, the chapters explore how participants reconcile their continuing involvement with ageing bodies, older identities and adult responsibilities. Breaking new ground and establishing a new field of study, the book will be essential reading for students and scholars researching or studying questions of youth, fashion, popular music and identity across a wide range of disciplines.
Recent debate on the conceptualisation of youth cultures has been characterised as an irreconcilable stalemate between materialist defenders of a version of subcultural theory derived from the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies and post-subcultural theorists who favour more individualised understandings. This article suggests that, beneath this façade lies a more complex and reconcilable debate and that it may be time to move beyond the polarising presence of the CCCS as primary reference point for the discussion. Turning to substance, I go on to examine how enduring areas of disagreement within the debate can be resolved, establishing ways forward with respect to the interplay between spectacular groupings and individual pathways and the contextualisation of youth cultures, including with respect to material and structural factors. I advocate greater emphasis on the study of collective youth cultures as part of broader biographies as a way forward that can reconcile these substantive strands and draw together insight from across the subcultures/post-subcultures debate.
This paper asks how much we can learn about youth music and style groupings from the detail of the spectacular content and practices which most obviously distinguish such groups. First, I consider an apparent revival in theoretically driven interpretations of subcultural style, music and content in recent work on the goth scene, arguing that, for all their sophistication, such studies seem liable to reproduce some of the difficulties of earlier studies of spectacular symbolic meanings unless their findings are connected with other kinds of evidence. The paper then examines recent calls for greater focus on the minutiae of participants? sensory experience of distinct subcultural practices. I discuss case studies of promising work in the area, while emphasising the need to avoid reducing subcultures to the specificities of selected spectacular experience. Drawing the two parts together, I suggest many elements of subcultures are neither imprinted in spectacular sounds and texts nor discernable from the immediate sensations spectacular practices give rise to. In order to enhance our overall understanding it is important, therefore, that our examination of the distinct and extraordinary features of subcultures is contextualised in relation to broader understandings a range of other properties and patterns which may be less distinct, unique or extraordinary.
This chapter focuses upon the principles and procedures associated with grounded theory, which has become the most well known approach to inductive social research. Having distinguished between inductive and deductive approaches to the development of theory through research in a general sense, the chapter goes on to outline the key features of grounded theory, including the notions of theoretical sampling, coding, constant comparison, and theoretical saturation. The focus here is partly on providing practical information and examples on how to carry out grounded theory research but also on understanding the justifications and arguments offered by proponents for adopting this approach. Having set out such procedures and arguments, we will examine some of the criticisms which have been levelled against grounded theory. It is suggested that, although highly influential, grounded theory is not very often followed to the letter and that ? for better or worse ? it is more common for researchers to adopt one or more elements associated with approach as part of their efforts to develop theory through research.
'In his beautifully balanced, clear and broad-ranging account of a fast-changing field, Paul Hodkinson has successfully brought together myriad perspectives with which to critically analyse today's media culture and media society' - Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Media & communication, LSE Clearly organized, systematic and combining a critical survey of the field with a finely judged assessment of cutting edge developments, this book provides a 'must have' contribution to media and communication studies. The text is organized into three distinctive parts, which fall neatly into research and teaching requirements: Elements of the Media (which covers media technologies, the organization of the media industry, media content and media users); Media, Power and Control (which addresses questions of the media and manipulation, the construction of news, public service broadcasting, censorship, commercialization); and Media, Identity and Culture (which covers issues of the media and ethnicity, gender, subcultures, audiences and fans). The book is notable for: " Logical and coherent organization " Clarity of expression " Use of relevant examples " Fair minded criticism " Zestful powers of analysis It has all of the qualities to be adopted as core introductory text in the large and buoyant field of media and communication studies.
?Youth? music and style cultures, such as the punk, goth, metal and club scenes, often are regarded as opposed to the institution of the family and the values it symbolises. Yet significant numbers of the participants of such groups are now remaining actively involved into their thirties and beyond alongside the taking on of permanent cohabitation, marriage and parenthood. This article explores the increasing importance of family life for ageing members of ?youth? cultures in relation to the case study of the goth scene, a dark-themed grouping whose average age is rising. I emphasise the collective nature of the embrace of family among older goths and the implications of this for the values and environment of the group itself and the trajectories of individual members. Amongst other things, I explore whether the drift towards family and parenthood amongst goths might be understood as a collective assimilation into dominant adulthood.
For decades, research on the subject of music and style subcultures has presented participation in such groups as a temporary manifestation of adolescence. More recently, sociologists have begun to examine the lives and identities of those who remain involved in so-called 'youth' subcultures beyond their teens and early twenties. This article examines the ways such work has begun to illuminate the role of enduring subcultural identities as part of the developing lives of older participants. Such work, I suggest, rejects simplistic understandings of older participation as a refusal to grow up in favour of a detailed focus on the relationships between continuing participation and other aspects of developing adult life, including career, family and the ageing body. Identifying core themes and debates while identifying areas for further work, I argue that this developing field of research addresses one of the primary criticisms of youth cultural research in the past, which is that such research has tended to examine leisure related affiliations in a fixed period of time and in isolation from the rest of participants' lives. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Ethnographic research on youth cultures, particularly at doctoral level, is often conducted by investigators with some degree of initial cultural proximity to the individuals or cultures under the microscope. Yet elaboration of the practical and epistemological implications of ?insider research? among such scholars has been somewhat limited. This article contributes to the development of such discussion through drawing together a range of previous writings and by drawing upon elements of the author's own experience of researching a contemporary youth subculture as a long-term participant of the grouping. In the face of theories emphasising the complexities of identity and the multiplicity of insider views, the paper argues for the continued use of the notion of insider research in a non-absolute sense. Subsequently, it is argued that researching youth cultures from such a position may offer significant potential advantages?in respect both of the research process and the types of understanding that might be generated. It is also suggested, however, that the realisation of such possible benefits and the avoidance of significant difficulties, requires a cautious and reflexive approach.
Hodkinson P (2015) Sociology: From Committing to Being?, In: Twamley K, Doidge M, Scott A (eds.), Sociologists' Tales: Contemporary narratives on sociological thought and practice pp. 135-142
What is sociology? Why is it important? Sociologists? Tales is the first book to offer a unique window into the thoughts and experiences of key UK sociologists from different generations, many internationally recognised, asking what sociology means to them. It reveals the changing context of sociology and how this has shaped their practice. Providing a valuable insight into why sociology is so fascinating, it gives advice to those wanting to study or develop a career in sociology reflecting on why the contributors chose their career, how they have managed to do it and what advice they would offer the next generation. This unique volume provides an understanding of sociology and its importance, and will have wide appeal among students, young sociologists thinking about their future and professional sociologists alike.
Youth Cultures offers a comprehensive outline of youth cultural studies in the twenty-first century, with reference to a range of new research case studies. Featuring both well known and emerging scholars from the UK, the US and mainland Europe, the book addresses core theoretical and methodological developments before going on to examine key substantive themes in the study of young people's identities and lifestyles. These include questions of commerce, power and politics, issues of gender and ethnicity, uses of place and space and impacts of new media and communications. Simultaneously offering an accessible introduction and a range of new contributions to the subject area, Youth Cultures will appeal to both students and academics within a range of disciplines, including sociology, media and cultural studies, youth studies and popular music studies.
This article considers young people?s identities and privacy on social network sites through reflection on the analogy of the teenage bedroom as a means to understand such spaces. The notion therein of intimate personal space may jar with the scope and complexity of social media and, particularly, with recent emphasis on the challenges to privacy posed by such environments. I suggest, however, that, through increased use of access controls and a range of informal strategies, young people?s everyday digital communication may not be as out of control as is sometimes inferred. Recent adaptations of the bedroom analogy indicate that social network sites retain intimacy and that their individual-centred format continues to facilitate the exhibition and mapping of identities. Although an awkward fit, I suggest the bedroom may still help us think through how social network sites can function as vital personal home territories in the midst of multi-spatial patterns of sociability.
Some of the work featured in this book focuses on longstanding participants who form a significant but smallish older minority within music and/or style communities which remain somewhat dominated by younger people. In these examples, we might argue that the scenes or communities themselves remain fairly clearly within the category of youth cultures in the traditional sense. In spite of their overall longevity, the membership of such groups has a substantial age-related turnover, through the falling off of many participants during their twenties and their replacement by waves of younger recruits. As many studies within this volume and elsewhere have shown, the continuing participation of a minority in their 30s, 40s and beyond within such longstanding youth cultures provokes important research questions and conclusions. As the first of three chapters on the subject of ageing scenes, however, this chapter considers a related but distinct scenario, one in which whole scenes or subcultures gradually become older. In this situation, ?continuing scenes?, as Smith puts it, remain, at least to an extent, populated by ?the same body of continuing participants? (Smith 2009: 428). Here the tendency for participants to fall away during their twenties is less marked, with substantial numbers remaining involved well into adulthood and towards middle-age. In some cases this may combine with a reduction or arrest in the recruitment of new teenage participants. Rather than finding themselves in a small minority within primarily adolescent cultures, an adult critical mass of participants may find themselves growing up together. This chapter explores a case study of such a scenario in the form of the goth scene and, more specifically, a particular twice yearly goth festival which has been taking place in the seaside town of Whitbyi in the North East of the UK for approximately fifteen years. The goth scene emerged in the early 1980s and has, during its three decades, been centred consistently on distinctive and recognisable forms of dark, macabre music and fashion ? most obviously in the form of black hair and clothing. Notwithstanding apparently similar yet somewhat separate recent adolescent developments such as emo, the established goth scene has undergone a substantial increase in its average age, especially since the late 1990s when I first conducted research on the subculture (Hodkinson 2002). This broader change has manifested itself in a particularly concentrated fashion at the Whitby Gothic Weekend (or WGW), a festival oriented to the scene which tended particularly to appeal to older and longer-term participants. Drawing on participant observation and interview research carried out at the festival in 2010, I briefly explore participants? changing experience of the event as they became older. I show how developments in the personal life trajectories of individuals were closely connected to a broader evolvement in the feel, ambiance and character of the festival itself. And while many such changes were somewhat informal, some had become institutionalised, not least in the format and content of organised events and activities and the nature of the clothes, accessories and other consumables being sold by subcultural retailers.
The significance of the contemporary goth music subculture have been the subject of some debate among academics, critics and participants themselves. For some, the goth scene constitutes merely the latest manifestation of the ongoing broader tradition of Gothic literature, art and culture. Meanwhile, some attempts to understand contemporary goth by means of textual analysis have concluded that the subculture embodies specific forms of cultural transgression rooted in the history of Gothic. This chapter provides an introduction to a music and style based subculture which, I argue, draws selectively upon elements of Gothic literature, art and film, but which - like various other youth music cultures - is centred for the majority of its participants upon the consumption of music and fashion, the enjoyment of a strong sense of shared identity and of socialising with one another at events such as gigs and night clubs. I briefly outline key elements of the style and its history here before considering some of the different ways in which we might make sense of goth subculture. Specifically, I suggest that it may be mistaken to assume all the details and explanations about the motivations, behaviours and identities of goths can be found beneath the surface of goth or indeed Gothic cultural texts
This paper considers the increasing importance of personal, individualized spaces in the lives and identities of young people through a comparative examination of the contemporary use of the physical space of the bedroom and the ?virtual? territory of the online journal. Particularly popular among those in their teens and early twenties, online journals constitute an interactive form of web log whose content tends to be dominated by reflections upon the everyday experiences, thought and emotions of their individual owner. We propose here that such online journals often take on for their users the symbolic and practical properties of individually owned and controlled space ? something we illustrate through a comparison with young people?s uses of the primary individual centred physical space in their lives ? the bedroom. This discussion is informed by research by each of the authors, on young people?s bedrooms and on the use of online journals respectively. The paper identifies and explores understandings and functions of these two spaces for young people, identifying a number of apparent similarities in their use. Through doing so, we illustrate the potential value of the bedroom as a prism through which to understand online journal use at the same time as helping to illuminate the general significance of personal space to the lives and identities of contemporary young people.
The decision taken by Greater Manchester Police in 2013 to recognise attacks against members of alternative subcultures as hate crimes has reignited the debate regarding which groups are officially classified as hate crime victim groups and which are not. The case for including alternative subcultures under the hate crime rubric, and some of the key arguments against it, are debated within this chapter. We suggest that, although greater research is needed into the issue, various aspects of the victimisation of alternative subcultures appears to be comparable with that of recognised hate crime victim groups, including the frequency and nature of ?low-? and ?high-level? incidents, and their impact upon the victim and, crucially, those in their community. We also discuss some concerns about extending the concept of hate crime in this way, noting, for example, the possibility of ?watering down? the concept of hate crime by including groups that have not been historically marginalised in the manner that already recognised victim groups have. We also identify difficulties with defining exactly who can be categorised as ?alternative?. We suggest that, if accepted, the inclusion of alternative subcultures may open the way for equally compelling claims from other targeted groups that do not currently fall under the hate crime umbrella which could, in turn, prompt more fundamental re-evaluations of the concept of hate crime itself.
This article explores the continuing involvement in youth music and style cultures of older participants through examination of the case study of the goth scene. It does so in the context of a widespread neglect, until recently, of what happens to participants of ?youth cultures? as they move beyond adolescence and also of a growing consensus about the broadening of youth itself as a life course period. Drawing on recent work on older participants in other music and style related groupings, the article uses original qualitative research to examine the developing lives and identities of goths as they become older. Rather than regarding continuing participation as a simple extension of youth, the focus is on the ways participation accompanied and was reconciled with material, domestic and physical elements of developing adult lives. Through reference to the case study, I emphasize the ways the experience of ageing for long-term music and style culture participants can constitute a collective experience.
Hodkinson P (2015) Contextualizing the Spectacular, In: Dhoest A, Malliet S, Segaert B, Haers J (eds.), The Borders of Subculture: Resistance and the Mainstream pp. 5-16
Goths represent one of the most arresting, distinctive and enduring subcultures of recent times. The dedication of those involved to a lifestyle which, from the outside, may appear dark and sinister, has spawned reactions ranging from admiration to alarm. Until now, no one has conducted a full-scale ethnographic study of this fascinating subcultural group. Based on extensive research by an 'insider', this is the first. Immersing us in the potent mix of identities, practices and values that make up the goth scene, the author takes us behind the faade of the goth mystique. From dress and musical tastes to social habits and the use of the internet, Hodkinson details the inner workings of this intriguing group. Defying postmodern theories that claim media and commerce break down substantive cultural groupings, Hodkinson shows how both have been used by goths to retain, and even strengthen, their group identity. Hodkinson provides a comprehensive reworking of subcultural theory, making a key contribution to the disciplines of sociology, cultural studies, youth studies, media studies, and popular music studies. Readable and accessible, this groundbreaking book presents a unique chance to engage with a contemporary, spectacular culture.
The ways young people use clothing and other forms of bodily decoration as a means of expressing themselves has been an important focus for researchers of youth culture. There is a degree of agreement among scholars that style offers a means for adolescents to explore and express identity within a transitory period of the life course in which the dependencies of childhood gradually are relinquished without yet having fully been replaced by adult routines and responsibilities. Yet the details of how and why style is used and how this should be theorised and understood are the subject of considerable debate. This chapter outlines key elements of such debates, beginning with the influential work of a well known group of theorists from Birmingham, UK and developing a number of points of discussion which continue to dominate contemporary research of the subject.
Greater Manchester Police?s categorisation of targeted attacks on ?alternative subculture? members as hate crimes prompted extensive debate about whether such incidents are comparable to those of recognised hate crime groups. Hate crime experts have contributed to this debate but there is a lack of detailed empirical research on the subject. Drawing on qualitative interviews with twenty-one respondents mostly affiliated to the goth scene, this paper uncovers extensive experience of verbal harassment and, for some respondents, repeated incidents of targeted violence. The nature and impact of such experiences, we argue, bears comparison with key facets of hate crime. Such evidence informs and underlines the importance of conceptual arguments about whether hate crime can or should be extended beyond recognised minority groups.
This paper examines the significance of experiences and understandings of targeted harassment to the identities of youth subcultural participants, through case study research on goths. It does so against a context of considerable recent public discussion about the victimisation of alternative subcultures and a surprising scarcity of academic research on the subject. The analysis presented indicates that, although individual direct experiences are diverse, the spectre of harassment can form an ever-present accompaniment to subcultural life, even for those who have never been seriously targeted. As such, it forms part of what it is to be a subcultural participant and comprises significant common ground with other members. Drawing upon classic and more recent understandings of how subcultural groups respond to broader forms of outside hostility, we show how the shared experience of feeling targeted for harassment tied in with a broader subcultural discourse of being stigmatised by a perceived ?normal? society. The role of harassment as part of this, we argue, contributed to the strength with which subcultural identities were felt and to a positive embrace of otherness.
Brooks Rachel, Hodkinson Paul (2008) Introduction, Journal of Youth Studies 11 (5) pp. 473-479
Taylor & Francis
Over recent years, politicians and social commentators in many countries of the world have become concerned with what is perceived to be young people?s declining engagement within the political sphere. There is certainly strong evidence that turnout in national elections has fallen markedly among the youngest age groups. In the UK, for example, between 1997 and 2001 the percentage of 18-24 year olds who voted fell by 29 per cent to 39 per cent, a much greater drop than was witnessed among other age groups (Phelps 2005; Wattenberg 2003). Moreover, in 2005, when turnout in general rose slightly, it continued to decline for the 18-24 age group and remained the same for 25-34 year olds (Phelps 2005). Similar trends have been observed in other countries. Indeed, a previous special issue of the Journal of Youth Studies, on Youth and Politics (volume 6, number 3, 2003) has shown how concern about youth disengagement is driving public debate in countries as far apart as Canada, Germany and Australia.
Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP) is a new model of socio-economic production in which groups of individuals cooperate with each other without a traditional hierarchical organisation to produce common and public goods, such as Wikipedia or GNU/Linux. There is a need to understand how these communities govern and organise themselves as they grow in size and complexity. Following an ethnographic approach, this thesis explores the emergence of and changes in the organisational structures and processes of Drupal: a large and global CBBP community which, over the past fifteen years, has coordinated the work of hundreds of thousands of participants to develop a technology which currently powers more than 2% of websites worldwide.
Firstly, this thesis questions and studies the notion of contribution in CBPP communities, arguing that contribution should be understood as a set of meanings which are under constant negotiation between the participants according to their own internal logics of value. Following a constructivist approach, it shows the relevance played by less visible contribution activities such as the organisation of events.
Secondly, this thesis explores the emergence and inner workings of the socio-technical systems which surround contributions related to the development of projects and the organisation of events. Two intertwined organisational dynamics were identified: formalisation in the organisational processes and decentralisation in decision-making.
Finally, this thesis brings together the empirical data from this exploration of socio-technical systems with previous literature on self-organisation and organisation studies, to offer an account of how the organisational changes resulted in the emergence of a polycentric model of governance, in which different forms of organisation varying in their degree of organicity co-exist and influence each other.
International student mobility had undergone considerable growth over the last thirty years (OECD, 2015). Students who travel to different countries to study can be seen as an important group of people who develop the internationalisation of higher education. One type of student mobility, credit mobility, has come to assume greater importance recently. The number of credit mobile students, that is students who undertake a period studying or working abroad during their degree, has increased (European Commission, 2016). However, whilst credit mobile students form only a small minority of the student population, there has been a lack of research with young people who choose to participate in these programmes.
This PhD research is a qualitative project that explores the motivations, experiences and aspirations of UK students who have spent either a semester or year abroad. Firstly, this study explores the backgrounds and biographies of these students who choose to travel abroad for higher education. Secondly, the study analyses the experiences of these students during their stay overseas. And thirdly, careful attention is paid to the aspirations of these students after they have returned from their period abroad.
In this research, I demonstrate how young people attach significant value to student mobility by discussing it as an acceptable form of ?authentic? travel. Discourses around acceptable forms of travel, I show, stem from the habitus (Bourdieu 1986) of these young people. Secondly, I provide the first in-depth analysis of the key experiences of these students whilst abroad. Drawing on John Urry?s (2002) concept of the tourist gaze, I outline how new experiences away from home create a sense of adventure and novelty. Lastly, this research makes an original contribution to knowledge by developing our understanding of the aspirations of students who have completed a period abroad. Using Bauman?s (1996, 1998) theory of ?tourism?, I demonstrate how young people who have studied and/or worked abroad become seduced by imagined mobile futures. I show how, for these students, their experiences create desires to continue living mobile lifestyles.
Changes in the Saudi family structure are having profound effects on the current cohort of older Saudi women. This is reflected in living arrangements whereby family patterns have been transformed from extended to nuclear ones. Previous social research has not examined the current situation of older Saudi women, with little known about their Quality of Life (QoL).
This study explores the QoL of older unmarried Saudi women by analysing their family relationships, social lives and daily activities. It examines how family relationships, social integration, health and financial aspects are influenced by social policies and gender-related issues.
The study is based on in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of 50 widowed, divorced and never-married women aged 60-75 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from a range of socio-economic classes; 25 lived alone and 25 lived in inter-generational households.
Gender segregation was a decisive factor that adversely affected the QoL of interviewees. They were dependent on their family or maids socially, instrumentally, and some financially on the ?Goodwill? of their children or relatives. Older divorced women were particularly likely to experience financial and social problems. Lower class and many middle class older women who lived alone were dissatisfied and suffered from depression, isolation and loneliness, whereas higher class women living alone demonstrated greater autonomy, independence and life satisfaction. Most interviewees had poor health and multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which are linked to their socially and geographically restricted lives. Also, urbanization and associated cultural changes have adversely affected their QoL.
Gender segregation driven by ultra-conservative patriarchy has resulted in the economic and social dependency and restricted lives of older unmarried Saudi women. State intervention is needed to improve the general situation of older women, such as establishing care homes, increasing social insurance income and providing medical insurance.
Paul Hodkinson's bestseller is back, once again exploring the concepts and complexities of the media in an accessible, balanced and engaging style. Additions to the Second Edition include:
A new chapter on advertising and sponsorship
Extensive revision and updating throughout all chapters
New material on technologies, censorship, online news, fan cultures and representations of poverty
Greater emphasis on and examples of digital, interactive and mobile media throughout
Fully reworked chapter on media, community and difference
Up-to-date examples covering everything from social media, contemporary advertising, news events and mobile technologies, to representations of class, ethnicity and gender.
Combining a critical survey of the field with a finely judged assessment of cutting-edge developments, this Second Edition cements its reputation as the must-have text for any undergraduate student studying media, culture and society.
Against the context of enduring gender inequalities in early years? parental care, this paper examines the experiences of UK fathers who had taken on primary or equal care responsibility for children aged three or under. Informed by qualitative interviews with 24 such fathers, the paper explores a discourse of parental interchangeability that pervaded their accounts before outlining the ways that, in practice, most caregiving tasks did tend to be allocated to them or their partners primarily on the basis of factors other than gender. The men?s comfort in presenting themselves and their partners as interchangeable equivalents, along with the range of caregiving approaches they were taking on suggest, we argue, that they had begun to move beyond clearly differentiated motherly or fatherly roles. We go on, however, to show that certain emotional, organisational and social aspects of parenting sometimes continued to be centred on mothers. In explaining the endurance of these areas of maternal responsibility within otherwise interchangeable partnerships, we outline mutually reinforcing sets of maternal pressures and paternal barriers.
This article explores the daytime social interactions of fathers who have assumed primary or equal responsibility for the care of their young children. For most such fathers in our sample, contact with other parents during their day-to-day care was minimal. Many rationalised their isolation as a personal preference rooted in their own ?introverted? nature. Nevertheless, such individualised narratives underplay how various systemic factors worked against their integration into parent networks, including: feeling ?out-of-place? in many daytime public spaces; a fear of being judged because of their gender; and the difficulty of meeting other fathers with responsibility for day-to-day care. The operation of these factors provides evidence of the enduring nature of gender differences with respect to early years parenting and, in particular, of the gendering of daytime public parenting spaces ? something that may represent a barrier to the extent and longevity of fathers? caregiving roles.
This paper considers the ways in which new fathers use networked media to negotiate, initiate and reciprocate intimate ties with others in the context of mental health difficulties. We shed light on the fluid and cross-cutting networked intimacies (Andreassen et al, 2017) which men negotiate as they cope with their difficulties within broader contexts of silences around male mental health. A particular focus is the disclosure of their struggles to others as an affectively significant moment in the building of intimate ties, taking forward Chambers? (2013, 2016) notion of self-disclosure as the engine that drives intimacies (see also Nicholson, 2013). As part of this, we explore the ways social media platforms and their affordances are worked with, within and against, in the emotionally fraught and liminal moment of mental health disclosure and the connections that ensue. This means we pay attention not just to the establishment of new intimate connections online, but also to the mediated shaping of existing close relationships ? locating our project, at its topmost level, within mediated frameworks (Silverstone, 1999; Thompson, 1995) of interpersonal ties (Baym, 2015).
The research on which this paper is based consisted of 15 interviews with fathers who had suffered mental health difficulties after having a baby. Our overarching research question was: What role, if any, do networked media play in new fathers? negotiations of mental health difficulties? Within this broad framework, we nested subsidiary questions around new fathers? circumstances, support (both seeking and provision) and communication. Our focus on disclosure and intimacies in this paper connects to all of these, but particularly the last two. Following discussions of the literature and our methodology, our findings are divided into two parts. First, in intimacies, negotiated we outline how existing, and often strongly bonded, intimacies are complexified by the arrival of mental health difficulties, and how networked media are sometimes deployed as part of the negotiation of mental health disclosure within these existing relationships. Second, in intimacies, initiated we consider how and why networked media emerges to be central to initiating new intimacies centred upon either explicit or more coded forms of disclosure, and how they mediate the encountering of others? attempts to reach out.
At the heart of our findings across these sections are the complexity and plurality of the mediated ties fathers negotiated in relation to their struggles, the powerful emotion-work that the engagement with or establishment of such connections involves, and the liminality and sometimes even invisibility of some of this emotion-work. Bringing these themes together is our use of the textile metaphor of the tapestry. First, a tapestry is a form of textile art, where threads of diverse kinds and colours are woven together, cross-cutting and overlapping. This aspect of the metaphor brings us close to the overlapping and simultaneous nature of intimacies in the contexts of these men?s lives, where old intimacies co-exist with newly unfolding ones. Second, the weaving in a tapestry is done against a strong backdrop, and this backdrop of the tapestry ? the contexts of these men?s lives ? is one we cannot begin to conceptualise outside of frameworks of mediation (Livingstone, 2008; Silverstone, 1999). And third, tapestries consist of what is called ?weft-faced weaving?, where warp threads are hidden, unlike in plain cloth weaving, where both warp and weft threads are visible. As our analysis demonstrates, a good deal of the emotion-work performed in these networked intimacies is fleeting, hidden, ambiguously coded, but rarely, we suggest, absent.
This study adopted a qualitative approach, comprising in-depth interviews and observations at four courts, to examine the perceived legitimacy of the court process among members of the public who come into direct contact with the criminal courts. Examining the extent to which members of the public, or ?lay participants?, engaged with the court process provided a valuable means of assessing the degree to which the courts are perceived to occupy legitimate authority among those that they serve. In this thesis, engagement is characterised in one of five ways, ?active alignment?, ?passive alignment?, ?dull compulsion?, ?resistance? and ?withdrawal?, based upon the extent to which an individual is aligned with, and participates in, the court process. The findings point to evidence of weak levels of engagement, particularly among court users, such as complainants, defendants and prosecution witnesses, who have the least power but most at stake in the process. This is indicative of legitimacy deficits which, if unaddressed, limit the degree to which the courts can continue to claim to be valid holders of power. The findings suggest that perceptions of legitimacy can be cultivated in two ways. This is firstly through the use of lay adjudicators, namely juries and lay magistrates, who ? despite challenges arising from the visibility of the perceived benefits of lay decision-making in practice ? were found to confer legitimacy on the criminal courts. Secondly, engagement could be cultivated through the presence of ?procedurally just? interactions between court users and those who occupy positions of power within the courts. However, the strength of the latter claims, this thesis concludes, should not be overstated because in order to fully enhance perceptions of legitimacy there is a need to look beyond the confines of the courtroom and towards issues in wider society that shape the experiences of court users.
This paper introduces the idea of 'affective coding' as a form of affectively-loaded, digital social steganography ? a form of hiding messages ? as it presents findings from interviews with new fathers struggling to cope with and disclose mental illnesses, against the context of cultures of silencing. While previous expositions of online social steganography have considered its role in privacy management or its employment in concealing identities, we conceptualize affective coding as an agentic and discursive-material digital practice of attempted revelation, occupying a liminal space between silence and more explicit attempts to reach out, disclose and seek support. Our findings show men undertaking a range of seemingly minor online acts, each demonstrating subtle strategies of managing self-disclosure and social media architecture, and each encoded with a substantial amount of affective investment. We discuss motivations, strategies and outcomes of affective coding, before discussing its significance for self-disclosure in platform societies.
About the Project
This project analysed in-depth, qualitative material on new fathers? experiences of mental health difficulties after having a baby.
In particular, we focused on fathers' use of online communications as part of their coping practices.
Arising out of a project funded by the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at the University of Surrey that centred on in depth interviews with 15 fathers in the UK, the project explored the intense difficulties men can endure in recognizing the nature of perinatal struggles and communicating with others about them.
This brief report presents findings from our analysis of the complex and varied engagements they have with digital communications as part of their experience.
New fathers are often are unaware of the possibility of perinatal mental health challenges and
also can experience significant difficulties with seeking support.
We found that isolation and the lack of spaces to speak about their experiences is a significant problem.
Fathers found it particularly difficult to express their difficulties to those close to them because of their investment into close relationships, and a need they felt to not let people down.
Most fathers spoke of masculine pressures to be 'the rock' and their perceived self-conceptions as providers, not recipients, of support.
Fathers sometimes turn to social media to seek information and express themselves. Such online resources can provide an invaluable source of information and interaction but do not always enable them to reach out or receive the support they need.