The operating structure of the Masculinities and Society team consists of the following bodies: the board of directors, the executive committee, the members’ assembly, the awarding committee, the transfer and dissemination of knowledge committee and various working committees depending on the projects being pursued by the current team.
About twenty years ago in Quebec, the first researchers interested in tackling the issue of masculinity were few and far between. Their involvement was as a result less grounded in research but rather geared more to the allocation of resources, curriculum development and a first definition of training and workshops to deal with various aspects of masculinity. Many of those initial experts eventually became involved in the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Family Violence and Violence against Women (CRI-VIFF).
The Beginnings of CRI-VIFF (1992-95), focus on violent partners
When CRI-VIFF began, researchers directed their research efforts more towards the understanding and treatment of domestic violence. However, an examination of the research projects of this era shows that there was an interest in prevention and a desire to broaden the understanding of domestic violence. For example, in a research project focused on the effectiveness of intervention with spouses with violent behaviors, researchers were also interested in the attitudes of men and women towards this issue, and whether any sort of change in their attitudes was being brought about by the program.
The “Victoire/Victory” team at CRI-VIFF: the scope of research begins to expand
During the years 1996 to 2000, the focus of research for the CRI-VIFF and the Victoire/Victory team remained the understanding of domestic violence as well as analysis and evaluation of preventive and curative interventions in practice. It was then that the proposal for the research project Trajectories for help-seeking was accepted. This project was then expanded in order to target three types of men seeking help, with the explicit aim of identifying differences and similarities between spouses with violent behaviors and those who were reaching out for help for their suicidal thoughts and problems of substance-abuse.
Men, Violence and Change (2001-2004): the developmental stage.
The "Men; violence and change" team was established in 2000 within the CRI-VIFF, financed by the Fund for the training of researchers and research support (FCAR). This group laid out a program focused on issues related to men (gender), violence and change (social context). Its research was concerned with the scope of interventions for men experiencing difficulties, and the transformation of norms and social roles. Different themes, outside the area of domestic violence and violence against women, came to be addressed in the work of these researchers, such as gender roles conflicts and depression in men, fathers' involvement with their children in impoverished circumstances, help-seeking by men experiencing breakups, the involvement of fathers in cases of maternal consumption of psychotropic substances, and the school achievement of college boys.
The Realities faced by Men (2005-2006): Theoretical consolidation
The years 2005-2006 without a doubt brought with them a theoretical consolidation, in connection with the work initiated by the Quebec government on men's needs and health, work that involved several team members. Also, the work done as part of two grant applications that were ultimately turned down, nonetheless provided the opportunity for greater reflection. Thus, in a letter of intent made for a grant application from the Community-University Research Alliances (CURA/ARUC), it was suggested that a better conceptualization of the difficulties men face must necessarily rely on a more accurate and complete perception of the realities they face, in order to achieve more effective intervention. Another request made to the Quebec Fund for Research on Society and Culture (FQRSC) (under the program to support research teams), was intended to contribute to the development of knowledge on certain important realities faced by men and their relation to social practices. Despite the lack of funding, this work has also helped to differentiate the negative aspects of certain realities faced by men, and to develop broader partnerships with community organizations and institutional researchers not specifically involved in work on domestic violence or violence against women.
Masculinities and Society (2007-2011)
In 2007 the team Masculinities and Society received FQRSC funding as a team affiliated to a center (CRI-VIFF), which whilst continuing to work for has also begun to distinguish itself in its own right, and in the process adding further value to the center's work. Here there has evidently been a growing interest in research on men and masculinities and the development of a partnership to meet the mutual needs of communities in practice and those of academic research.
Why conduct research in partnership?
The team envisaged Masculinities and Society's joint-research projects to work as part of a dynamic process, rooted in the mutual needs of communities in practice and research to develop knowledge and practices related to realities faced by men.
A collaboration involving 15 partners from the practical setting
The team benefits from the collaboration of 15 different partners that are involved in one or more of the team's projects. During the application process, the choice of partners was made based on the need for a unifying framework structured according to the following criteria:
1) Through their variety of expertise and their fields of interest, the partner allows full scope of the team's research program to be covered.
2) From a long history of collaboration between researchers and several members of the team partners, with some collaborations having lasted over 15 years. This guarantees the quality and strength of the partnership.
3) By deploying in various geographical regions of Quebec, the partnership provides a sensitivity to the specific realities of these different living environments.
4) By working with partnerships with partner members from public and community sectors and different levels of services (GS; specialized services, consultation, service planning), the partnership gives the team a greater ability to influence their work and thus increase the overlap of knowledge with the practical setting.
A joint operating structure
To maximize the collaboration between researchers and partners, the team adopts a joint operating structure, which provides places of shared learning and reciprocal influence at different levels. In addition to members’ assembly, committees of the team are mostly joint ones and always contain three categories of team members (researchers, partners and students). This joint operating structure facilitates the sharing of expertise and concerns between all communities in practice as well as research environments. Thus, the three categories of members have an important influence on the general guidelines for the team and the development of its various activities.
The advantages of working in partnership
A research partnership allows partners and researchers to discuss the impact and significance of research findings on their application in the field. Several researchers have conducted research and developed training and intervention tools with partners of the team. The contribution of research to development and improvement of practices is an essential element for team members. In addition, partners are invited to attend orientation seminars on the research projects and participate at each of the stages of research: from the project’s inception to the dissemination of results. This allows them to deepen their understanding of certain realities faced by men and use this learning to develop interventions. Furthermore, the participation of partner members in the team allows researchers to address real-time concerns and realities, and to initiate projects based on issues emerging from the practice. This form of reciprocal partnership also facilitates, for researchers, access to research participants, and for students, access to places of training
Gender Studies - Men and masculinities studies - the liberal pro-feminist perspective
The projects embarked upon by Masculinities and Society are borne out of the field of gender studies and are particularly in line with studies on men and masculinities. Its programming is founded on pro-feminist liberalism, pro-feminism as it subscribes to the claims and associated advances of the women's movement; liberal (vs. radical) since it ascertains that traditional conceptions of masculinity, as well as femininity, impose restrictions and barriers as much for men as for women, and can have harmful effects on men too.
Definition of terms
"Realities faced by men" are referred to herein as the objective and subjective experiences that men are exposed to. "Gender" is used as a reminder of the social, non-biological differentiation that is made between men and women. The term "Masculinities" refers to that which is masculine and encompasses the social construction of men. The concept of Masculinities is plural, relational and situational. Its pluralisation recognizes that it may hold different meanings for different groups of people at different times. Furthermore, masculinities are understood as relational constructs that individuals produce and reproduce in their interactions with other individuals but also in relation to their institutions. Because masculinities are plural and relational, they are also situational. What it means to be a man indeed can vary according to different social and institutional contexts. These settings differ depending on culture, historical period, society and lifestyle. In a perspective of integration and cohesion of the research program, realities faced by men are studied in an integrated manner in order to meet the two objectives of the general research premise: understanding and intervention.
Overall Research Goal
With the general research mission statement: "Realities faced by men: Understanding and intervention", the Masculinities and Society team strives to further understanding on important issues relating to masculinity and the associated social and health practices.
The first goal of the Masculinities and Society team is to better comprehend realities faced by men. The realities chosen are those that fit best the team's program and are considered among the most important by those authors who have become leaders in research on men and masculinities.
The second objective is to better understand the relationship between realities faced by men and social practices, including better knowledge of the help-seeking pathways taken by men and the organization of social and health services offered to them. Social practices here refer to interventions that target realities faced by men or that take into account the organizational context in which they occur.
Fields of Research
The realities faced by men studied as part of the Masculinities and Society program are discussed systematically with a view to meeting these two inter-related objectives. The literature on men identifies many realities faced by men that are particularly problematic, which have adverse effects on various groups, including men themselves, as well as women and children, and therefore require a thorough evaluation, at the risk of a deterioration of the situation. The authors stress also the high proportion of men represented in statistics on social problems such as school dropout, substance abuse, homelessness, domestic and interpersonal violence, fathers separated from their children, sexual addiction, homicide, suicide and fatal car accidents, as well as some deadly diseases. Based on these realities that are priorities in research on masculinities across the world, the work of the Masculinities and Society team focuses on four specific realities which are studied in different research projects:
Component A: Fatherhood
The understanding of a father's involvement in risky contexts or in specific situations of exclusion, which require an appropriate response from social and health services.
Component B: Violence
The analysis and development of practical intervention in Quebec with men with violent behaviors.
Component C: Health
The organization of services for men and the adaptation of interventions in the fields of health and social services.
Component D: Cultural Diversity
As an integral dimension, cultural considerations are considered essential to the understanding of plural male realities. Hence the team wants to better understand and thus better include this reality in research on masculinities in Quebec.
The operational structure of the Masculinities and Society team consists of the following bodies: the board of directors, executive committee, the members’ assembly, the awarding committee, the committee on transfer and dissemination of knowledge, and various working committees according to the projects of the current team.
The board of directors
The board of directors is composed of researchers who are chairperson and co-chairperson for the team, another elected researcher, two elected students one of which is a substitute without the right to vote, and four partner members appointed at the members' meetings. This committee meets at least twice a year or when necessary. The composition of the board of directors should reflect the three member categories, their diverse geographical origins and different aspects of the research program. The scientific coordinator and relations officer attend these meetings but have no right to vote. The board of directors sees to the implementation of the annual action plan, fills vacancies in the board of directors or in the various working groups and works to recruit and maintain a balance among the members.
The executive committee
The executive committee is composed of a researcher chairperson for the team, as well as the scientific coordinator and relations officer, and meets weekly. It oversees the preparation of meetings of various committees and undertakes the necessary follow-up of these meetings. It deals with the preparation of the annual action plan and sees to its implementation. Its role is to hire research assistants to perform various tasks necessary for the team and identify representatives for various bodies of CRI-VIFF.
The members’ assembly
The assembly consists of those from the three categories of members (researchers, partners and students) and meets at least once a year. It plays an advisory role on the management of the team and the adoption of the annual action plan. At the members' assembly, each membership category decides on who will represent them in the board of directors.
The awarding committee
The awarding committee consists of the researcher chairperson, another researcher, a student and a partner. The role of the awarding committee is to work on recommending to the direction, the awarding of scholarships for each program of financial support aimed at researchers and students within the regular team. It holds meetings as needed according to the timelines of each contest. The scientific coordinator participates in these meetings but has no right to vote. Projects relating to family violence and violence against women are treated by CRI-VIFF's own awarding committee.
The committee for transfer and dissemination of knowledge
The committee for transfer and dissemination of knowledge is made up of the chairperson, another researcher, a student, and a partner, and this group meets at least twice a year. The role of the transfer and dissemination committee is to identify among the various modes of communication of knowledge between research communities and practice settings, those that are the most effective and responsive to the needs of the people involved, in order to enhance the synergy between the members of Masculinities and Society. It also has a mandate to identify ways of sharing research findings developed in the main research team in order to facilitate the integration of knowledge on realities faced by men. In addition, the committee receives the annual action plan with regard to the dissemination and transfer of knowledge and ensures its implementation. The relations officer attends these meetings, but has no right to vote.