Episode 3

Published on:

31st Aug 2021

Dr Mike Ward - Young Working-Class Masculinities in the South Wales Valleys

How do the Covid-19 pandemic, deindustrialisation in South Wales, and Bruce Springsteen all link back to masculinity? Find out in episode 3 of Now and Men, where we speak to Dr Mike Ward, a Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences at Swansea University. Mike’s research focuses on the performance of working-class masculinities within and beyond educational institutions. He is the author of the award-winning book ‘From Labouring to Learning, Working-Class Masculinities, Education and De-industrialization’, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. He is also the editor of Boyhood Studies, an interdisciplinary academic journal.

Some of the issues we cover in the episode include…

  • Mike’s CoronaDiaries project, which has sought to understand the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s everyday lives.
  • How Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford’s response to the pandemic has differed from that of other male leaders.
  • Mike’s own experience of growing up in the South Wales Valleys, and how studying sociology helped him understand his background.
  • The ethnographic research Mike has conducted with working-class young men in South Wales, which shone a light on the impact of deindustrialisation and different forms of loss at individual and community levels, and the ethical challenges which arose from his study.
  • The influence of locality on the construction of masculinity, and the variety of forms that young working-class masculinities can take.
  • Contemporary discussions about a ‘crisis of masculinity’.
  • Being a Bruce Springsteen fan - and what his music tells us about being a man.

Read more about and access Mike’s work on his Swansea University page: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/staff/human-and-health-sciences/public-health-policy-and-social-sciences/ward-m/. You can follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/mrmwardphd.

This episode was hosted and produced by Stephen Burrell and Sandy Ruxton. Thank you very much to Professor Nicole Westmarland, Durham University, and Vic Turnbull (MIC Media) for all of their support in setting up Now and Men.

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About the Podcast

Now and Men
Current conversations about men's lives
What's it like to be a man in the 21st century? How are feminist issues relevant to men and boys? How can we engage in productive conversations about gender equality? These questions are being discussed more than ever.

Our monthly podcast delves into these issues with experts such as practitioners, activists and academics. In each episode, you’ll hear in-depth conversations about a wide-range of topics connected to masculinity and the lives of men and boys, such as preventing gender-based violence, promoting active fatherhood, and supporting men's health.

The podcast is hosted by two social science researchers, based on the opposite sides of the world: Sandy Ruxton from Durham University's Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (UK) and Dr Stephen Burrell from the University of Melbourne (Australia). If you would like to give us your feedback, suggest a guest, or have a question you'd like us to discuss, get in touch at nowandmen@gmail.com. And if you like what we do, please share us with your friends, and leave a review on Apple podcasts!

About your hosts

Stephen Burrell

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I am a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where I moved to at the beginning of 2024. My research is about men, masculinities and violence. I am particularly interested in the prevention of men's violence against women, building gender equality, addressing environmental harm, and promoting an ethic of care among men and boys. In my spare time I'm a big fan of drinking tea, being in nature, eating vegan ice cream, and listening to heavy metal music. I'm also a trustee for White Ribbon UK.

Sandy Ruxton

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Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Durham University (UK). Independent researcher, expert on men and masculinities. Previous policy work on human rights, children and families, poverty and social exclusion, and asylum and migration. Programme experience with boys and young men in schools, community, and prisons. Steering Committee member, MenEngage Europe. Volunteer for OX4 Food Crew. Chess-player, bike-rider, tree-hugger. Great grandfather edited Boy's Own Paper, but was sacked.