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About the Research Project
The project is based at University College Dublin. The principal investigator is Professor Kath Browne (University College Dublin). The project is funded by the European Research Council, and it does not have any affiliation with any organisations.
This research project looks at the experiences of people who are concerned about or opposed to legislative, political or social changes in relation to sexualities and sex/gender in the 21st century in Ireland, Canada, and the UK. This includes, for example, people who believe that marriage should only occur between men and women and/or that families should be based on a heterosexual union. It also includes those who are concerned about the legalisation of abortion and/or people who disagree with, or question, transgender inclusion policies.
Through the online questionnaire and face to face interviews, a key project aim is to examine what everyday life is like for those who, for example, have concerns about, or who object to, issues like same-sex marriage, transgender people’s access to specific spaces, gay couples having children, abortion and other recent changes to the law in Ireland, the UK and Canada.
We are interested in what impact, if any, your views have on your experiences of home, work, and public spaces, such as work, home, and school.
Your answers will help provide insight into how legislative, political or social changes in relation to sexualities and sex/gender affect people. They will become part of a database which will be used to understand how society has transformed and how those who are concerned about or opposed to certain legislative, political or social changes in relation to sexualities and sex/gender experience this.
Later in the project, researchers will bring together those who do not agree with these changes, and those who do to consider how we might address social polarisations, without seeking to change people’s minds. Further details of these workshops will be posted in due course. To find out more or to stay in touch with the project, click here.
Ethos of the Project
Overall this project is about addressing social polarisation by looking at how we might move beyond opposition. The project aims to explore new ways of understanding differences and develop our knowledge about the effects of sexual and gender changes in the 21st century. In the later part of the project, we will be thinking how we might work across difference and interact with each other differently.
To do this, we think that we need to learn about the experiences of people who are concerned about or opposed to legislative, political or social changes in relation to sexualities and sex/gender (such as same sex marriage, transgender people’s inclusion policies, and sex education at school that includes things like gender identities). We focus on Canada, the UK and Ireland as places experiencing extensive legislative changes in these areas in the past two decades.
We are academics who believe in respecting people’s lives and experiences and reporting them as they tell us. We will not seek to change the opinions of those who are involved in the research, indeed these views, values or beliefs are not the focus of the study. Instead we are interested in everyday experiences; in other words, what happens when people are going about their lives and find that they are confronted with people or situations that challenge their values.
A key goal is to understand how societal changes are experienced from as diverse a set of perspectives as possible. We work to ensure that we collect people’s experiences in as professional an environment as possible. We seek to cultivate respectful engagement across diverse opinions so we can gain a greater understanding of how sexual and gender issues play out in everyday life.
We will take time to analyse the data and will look across a range of people to gain an understanding of these experiences and similarities and differences between them. At times, we will use participant’s own words to explain our findings and to show how people spoke about their experiences. We may also show how people understand or do things differently. We will not stereotype or demean.
The research seeks to respectfully investigate difference and we will report the findings carefully. However, we recognise that we cannot control how other people take up our findings and use them. We will work to correct any inaccuracies and present the ethos of respectful engagement with difference.
About the Researchers
Prof. Kath Browne
Professor Browne is the PI on this research and she is a professor in Geography at the University College Dublin. Her work investigates sexual and gender equalities, most recently through exploring how these are resisted by what she and Professor Nash have described as ‘heteroactivism’.
Prof. Catherine Nash
Dr. Catherine Jean Nash is Professor Emeritus, in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, Brock University. Her research interests include geographies of sexuality/queer/ feminist and trans geographies, mobilities and digital technologies.
Dr. Elizabeth Ablett
Dr. Elizabeth Ablett is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at UCD, Ireland. She is a feminist sociologist and ethnographer, whose research into UK political institutions examines persistent inequalities and the production of new political subjectivities in uncertain times.