The European research network on men:

the social problem of men


Précédente Remonter Suivante




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 (  ), 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. 

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 men.

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.

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 policy-makers.

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 beyond.


Zhanna Chernova
European 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.
Dr  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 Sunderland, UK.
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 on Men).
Associate Professor Tamar Pitch
University of Camerino, Italy.
Professor Keith Pringle
University of Sunderland, UK.
Professor Carmine Ventimiglia
University of Parma, Italy.


Précédente Remonter Suivante