THE EUROPEAN RESEARCH NETWORK ON MEN IN EUROPE: THE SOCIAL PROBLEM OF
Keith Pringle, Jeff
Hearn, Elzbieta Oleksy, Ursula Mueller, Tamar Pitch, Voldemar Kolga,
Harry Ferguson, Carmine Ventimiglia, Irina Novikova, Janna Chernova,
Oystein Gullvåg Holter, Emmi Lattu, Eivind Olsvik and Jackie Millett
The last twenty years or more have seen a considerable growth of
Critical Studies on Men as part of Women’s Studies. This has led to
the formation of a number of networks and forms of organising of women
and men focusing on Critical Studies on Men. In March this year and
following a long period of planning and cooperation, The European
Research Network on Men in Europe, a research network working on a
series of linked researches on men in Europe, was launched. The main
project is the Network funded by the European Union Framework V, ‘The
Social Problem of Men’ (full title: The Social Problem and Societal
Problematisation of Men and Masculinities) HPSE-CT-1999-00008. This
includes setting up The European Documentation Centre and Data Base on
Men and Men’s Practices (
www.cromenet.org ), based in the Department of
Management and Organisation, The Swedish School of Economics and
Business Administration. The
Network currently consists of women and men researchers in ten countries
- Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland,
Russian Federation, the UK. The EU coordinator is Keith Pringle
(Professor, Comparative Social Policy, Sunderland University, UK). The
principal contractors are Jeff Hearn (Professor, The Swedish School of
Economics, Helsinki, Finland; and Manchester University), Ursula Mueller
(Professor, Women’s Studies and Sociology, Bielefeld University),
Elzbieta Oleksy (Professor, Women’s Studies and Literature, Lodz
University, Poland). Emmi Lattu is the main research assistant to the
Network. Jackie Millett is the main administrator of the Network.
The European Research Network on Men in Europe comprises women and men researchers who are researching on men in an
explicitly gendered way. The bringing together of women and men
researchers is extremely important, necessary and timely in the
development of research on men in Europe. Research on men that draws
only on the work of men is likely to neglect the very important research
that has been and is being made by women to research on men. As such,
research and networking based on only men researchers is likely to
reproduce some of the existing gender inequalities of research and
policy development. In contrast, gender-collaborative research is
necessary in the pursuit of gender equality, in the combating of gender
discrimination, and in the achievement of equality and in the fight
against discrimination more generally.
The European Research Network on Men in Europe also acts as an
information resource for other researchers and policy-makers. In the
longer term it is planned that the Network will include researchers from
other European countries. The overall aim of The European Research
Network on Men in Europe is to develop empirical, theoretical and policy
outcomes on the gendering of men and masculinities. Initially, the
Research Network focuses on two closely related gendered questions:
first, the specific, gendered social problem of men and certain
masculinities; and, second, the more general, gendered societal
problematisation of men (and certain masculinities). More specifically,
this exploration is primarily contextualised in terms of welfare
responses to associated social problems and inequalities.
CRITICAL RESEARCH ON MEN IN EUROPE?
So why, develop critical research on men in
Europe? For a very long time, men, masculinity and men’s powers and
practices were generally taken-for-granted. Gender was largely seen as a
matter of and for women. Men were generally seen as ungendered, as
‘just like that’, natural or naturalised – not only in everyday
life and in politics, but also in academia. This is now less the case
than even ten years ago. There has been a gradually growing realisation
that men and masculinities are just as gendered as are women and
femininities. It is now clear that ‘gender’ and ‘gender
relations’ are about both women and men. This gendering of men is both
a matter of changing academic and political analyses of men in society,
and contemporary changes in the form of men’s own lives and men's
experiences and perceptions, sometimes developing counter to their
earlier expectations and the experiences of recent generations of other
Not only are men now increasingly recognised
as gendered, but they, or rather some men, are increasingly recognised
as a gendered social problem to which welfare systems may, or for a
variety of reasons may not, respond. This can apply in terms of men’s
violence to women and children, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, health
problems, buying of sex, accidents, driving, and so on, and indeed the
denial of such problems as sexual violence. The association of the
gendered problematisation of men and masculinities, and the gendered
social problem of men and masculinities is complex, as indeed are the
differential responses of welfare and other systems. At the very least
there are various ways in which the more general gendering and gendered
problematisations of men and masculinities both facilitate and derive
from more particular recognition of certain men and masculinities as
social problems. Such recognition can apply through the use of
measurable information, as well as through less exact discursive
constructions in politics, policy, law and media.
These problematisations of men and construction of men as gendered
social problems apply in academic and political analysis, and in men’
own lives and experiences. They also exist more generally at the
societal level, and very importantly in quite different ways in
different societies. While it may be expected that some kind of
problematisation of men and masculinities may now be observable in many,
perhaps most, European societies, the form that it takes is likely to be
very different indeed from society to society. For example, the recent
massive economic and social transformations of the Baltic, Central and
Eastern European countries have impacted hugely upon attitudes and
practices relating to men. In some countries, the problematisation of
men may appear in public concern around young men, crime, relatively low
educational attainments in schools; in others, it may take the form of
anxieties around the family, fatherhood, and relations with children;
elsewhere, the specific links between boyhood, fathering and men may be
emphasised; or the question of men’s ill-health, alcohol use,
depression, loneliness, and low life expectancy; or the reconciling of
home and work, with the pressure towards long working hours; or men’s
violence to women and children; or men’s participation in and
continued domination of political and economic institutions.
There is clearly great national and societal
variation in how men and masculinities interact with issues not only
culture but also other major social divisions and inequalities,
particularly class, "race", xenophobia and racism, ethnicity,
nationalism and religion. The intersection of "race",
ethnicity and nationalism appear especially, and probably increasingly,
important for the construction of both dominant and subordinated forms
of men and masculinities. This involves investigation of the complex
interrelations between these varying genderings and problematisations
and the social, political, economic and state structures and processes
within and between countries. This is likely to assist in the
formulation of social policy responses. Through comparative study, The
European Research Network on Men in Europe seeks to analyse men’s practices, gender relations and policy responses to
them in their social and cultural contexts, as both socially and
culturally constructed and with real material forms, effects and
outcomes for people’s lives. The notion of ‘men in Europe’ is
used, rather than, say, ‘the European man’ or ‘European men’.
This highlights the social construction, and indeed the historical
mutability, of men - within the contexts of both individual European
nations and the developing form of the EU itself as a policy arena. This
involves the examination of the relationship of men and
masculinities to European nations and European institutions.
FOCUSES AND METHODS
This is clearly a large set of tasks. The main focus of the current work
of The European Research Network on Men in Europe is on four thematic areas: men’s relations to home and work; men’s
relations to social exclusion; men’s violences; and men’s health.
These are being reviewed in each of the ten countries drawing on four data sources: in terms of relevant research, academic and analytical
literature; statistical sources; governmental, quasi-governmental and
related legal, policy and political statements; national press output.
National reports are being produced summarising material from each of
these four data sources, and focusing within each report on the four
thematic areas listed above. These national reports will be available in
due course on the website,
and will feed into future interface seminars with researchers and
We are also in the process of collecting published and unpublished
material on men and men’s practices for the Documentation Centre and
Data Base on Men and Men’s Practices. These can be in paper and/or
electronic form. If you are working on these issues, this is a good way
of making your work on men more widely known throughout Europe and
University at St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.
Professor Harry Ferguson
University College Dublin, Ireland.
Professor Jeff Hearn The Swedish School of Economics, Helsinki,
Finland, and Manchester University, UK.
Øystein Gullvåg Holter Work Research Institute, Oslo.
Professor Voldemar Kolga University
of Tallinn, Estonia.
Emmi Lattu The Swedish School
of Economics, Helsinki, Finland.
Jackie Millett University of
Professor Dr Ursula Mueller
University of Bielefeld, Germany.
Dr Irina Novikova University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia.
Professor Elzbieta H. Oleksy University of Lodz, Poland.
Eivind Olsvik Nordic Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender
Research (NIKK), Oslo, Norway (Nordic Co-ordinator of Critical Studies
Associate Professor Tamar Pitch University of Camerino, Italy.
Professor Keith Pringle University of Sunderland, UK.
Professor Carmine Ventimiglia University of Parma, Italy.