Just in time for Christmas, a new book out on becoming a father, Making Sense of Fatherhood, by sociologist Tina Miller at Oxford Brookes, who has previously written about experiences of becoming a mother. My reason for mentioning this is personal, because I am in it. I was one of Tina’s research subjects, back in 2006 and 2007, which involved being interviewed before and after the birth of our first child. The publication of the book is timely, since we are now expecting our second just after Christmas, so it gives me an opportunity to remember what life felt like last time.
I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know whether I ended up being a useful [anonymised] informant, nor what Tina has made of all the dad-talk in general. But I enjoyed the experience of being in her project, both for personal and ‘professional’ reasons. Personally, it was fun to have the opportunity to talk about what was going on way back then, and ‘Tina’ became a kind of imaginary friend in my head, who I would silently talk to as I wondered the streets of Bishopston pushing a pram for what seemed like hours on end. Professionally, it was interesting to be on the other side, as it were, to have a glimpse of the ordinariness of how lots of empirical social science gets done. I didn’t really think of it this way at the time, but it was pointed out to me the other day that my participation in Tina’s project sort of counted as ‘volunteering’. So now I am intrigued to discover if there is any work out there on how dependent social science research is on the willingness of people to be interviewed, counted, surveyed, and so on.
So, I might have more thoughts on being a research subject once I have read the book; and I’m going to look into the ‘research volunteering’ thing a little bit more too. In between all the busy, engaged parenting, obviously.