Just before Christmas, Brigid Featherstone, Sandy Ruxton and I received the long-awaited news that our funding bid to the Economic and Social Research Council had been successful. This means that we can finally begin work on our research project, tentatively entitled ‘Do Boys Need Male Role Models? Gender Identities and Practices in Work with Young Men’.

The two-year study, which we’ll be undertaking in partnership with Action for Children, a national voluntary organisation, aims to examine whether the gender identity of workers makes a difference in developing effective relationships with vulnerable young men, and to explore how gender interacts with other aspects of identity, such as class and ethnicity, in those day-to-day relationships. We’re hoping that our findings will contribute to academic debates about the development of young masculinities and young men’s transitions to adulthood, and also have an impact on policy and practice in relation to boys perceived to be ‘at risk’.

The idea for the study arose from a seminar that Sandy and I organised a couple of years ago, and builds on work that all three of us have been doing on various aspects of the relationship between masculinity, care and welfare services.

I’ll be posting updates about the study here and on Twitter, and we’d love to hear from anyone with an interest in our work, or working in similar areas. You can leave a comment here, send me a tweet, or email me at: Martin.Robb@open.ac.uk