Unlike previous studies, the University of Bristol project will use an innovative mix of diaries, photography, in-depth interviews, observations of home life and ‘guided tours’ of the families’ daily journeys to assess how activities and interactions vary across society and between the sexes.
The research will involve families from the Bristol area, carefully selected from a broad spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds, and taken to be representative of ‘ordinary life’ amongst the UK population.
Childrearing practices, the nature of mealtimes, the division of household chores, the nature and extent of contact with friends, family members and colleagues and how people spend their spare time at home are some of the issues that will be explored.
A key focus will be on the way people use time and space, incorporating the rhythms of everyday family routine and the nature and extent of movement in the home, the local community and beyond.
“This research is truly exciting,” said Dr Will Atkinson from Bristol’s Sociology department, who will work with colleague Professor Harriet Bradley on the study. “Although we know a lot about the patterns of class differences and inequalities in the UK, we still know surprisingly little about how they’re actually lived and reproduced on a daily basis by people. In this research we hope to open up this black box and really understand what’s going on.
“After all, the largest inequalities are grounded in the smallest of behaviours, so if we know something about the latter then policy aiming to address the former can be better targeted.”
The research is also very timely, added Dr Atkinson, because it will provide an insight into how the recent recession has impacted upon daily behaviours and pastimes in different ways for different people.
The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), begins in July and is due to run for two years.
Please contact Ailya Mughal for further information.