Men for Tomorrow has been set up by the Hera Trust to explore and promote ways of improving men’s positive contribution to communities and families in contemporary society. It will carry out research into men’s behaviour and attitudes, and produce reports with social policy recommendations. The work of the organisation is directed by Geoff Dench, whose research has demonstrated the need for such a body.
The rationale for Men for Tomorrow
There are growing signs in Britain today of men failing to contribute adequately to the communities they live in. It is widely understood that de-industrialisation and the reduction in jobs depending mainly on manual labour have increased male unemployment in recent decades. What is less appreciated is that this has been aggravated by rising levels of basic non-employability, absent fatherhood, crime and suicide; all of which can be seen as indicators of a lost generation of men. Future generations are in danger of repeating the problems of today. This waste of manpower is something the country can ill afford at the present time or in the future; and most women do not want it either, for their husbands, partners or sons. MfT is committed to throwing more light on what is going on, and to helping draft policies which prevent current problems becoming entrenched.
Several organisations have looked at aspects of men’s behaviour in the UK in recent years. But they have been reluctant to question the libertarian assumption that men and women enjoy the same interests and motivations, and respond to social influences in just the same way. MfT will broaden the debate by interrogating research data in an objective way while being open to traditional understandings of men’s difference, as explored in Geoff Dench’s books Transforming Men and The Place of Men (see ‘publications’). This will help to identify the most effective ways of looking at men’s behaviour.
MfT will carry into a new area work done recently by Geoff Dench at the Hera Trust on women’s attitudes. This work is based on the insertion by the Hera Trust into annual British Social Attitudes surveys over the last ten years of questions about family relationships – thereby increasing possible analytic links between private realm and public realm behaviour and attitudes. Much of the resulting analysis was presented in the report What Women Want.
This analysis found that libertarian valuing of female economic independence comes mainly from those women with careers, whose own paid work is fulfilling in itself, and whose domestic lives are often propped up by other women. Most other women, especially working-class women, have never abandoned traditional ideas about sexual interdependence, in which men have an important role contributing to the family income. Indeed such views have been reviving in recent years among younger women – not least among young single mothers. But social and benefit policies in Britain are still heavily influenced by progressive values. This may contribute to the de-motivation and marginalisation of some men. MfT will explore men’s behaviour in the light of existing policies, to see if more can be done to help boys and men to make a worthwhile contribution to society and so avoid becoming excluded from it.
- Frank Field
- Oliver James
- Erin Pizzey
- Belinda Brown
- John Barry