Image via @nicky_hudson
On the 11th December, I attended the ‘Making Parents’ event at Roehampton University in London. This one day event, organised by the BSA Families and Relationships and Human Reproduction study groups, proved to be a highly thought provoking day, leaving me with lots of ideas and possibilities for aspects to consider within my own research.
The day began with two keynotes, the first from Nicky Hudson who leads the Reproduction Research Group at DeMontfort University, and who talked about the transnational in relation to reproductive treatments, and the challenges that families who travel abroad for IVF/donor treatment and the cultural ‘strangeness’ that such approaches to reproduction can bring into the lives and families of those who seek treatment abroad.
The second keynote was Ellie Lee, Director of Centre for Parenting Culture Studies at Kent, who discussed the new sociology of generation that she observes within social life, and the idea of ‘pre-conception parenting’ which was framed though exploration of her work around the updated Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.
The rest of the day was divided into panel sessions, with highlight talks for me being by Lucy Ryan about adoption, Abigail Locke discussing Stay at home dads, and in the afternoon, Liz Gale’s discussion of IVF as rollercoaster.
Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the event was mostly populated by women, posing the question not only ‘where are all the men’ which is often asked in relation to reproductive research, but more specifically are topics of families, relationships, reproduction within sociology mostly the preserve of women academics. It was however good to see some interesting discussion of fatherhood within the programme (and a picture of a man and child on the programme cover), either in presentations solely about work on fathers, or in mixed couples interview work. The inclusion of all perspectives, from all the varied family formations that exist in society is vital for understanding who and what parenting is and means.