About the Research Project


On this page you can learn about the research, including information About the Research Project, the Ethos of the Project and About the Researchers.

You can also find out more on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you have further questions, you can Contact Us.

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 interviews (now complete), 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, Great Britain and Canada. 

Interviews and questionnaires explored what impact, if any, participants’ views had on their experiences of home, work and public spaces.

The data gathered in the first phase of the project provided insights into legislative, political or social changes in relation to sexualities, sex/gender and/ or abortion. We analyse this data 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 gender, sexualities and/ or abortion experience this.

In the second phase of the project, researchers organised discussion groups and workshops to bring together people with multiple different perspectives on socio-political changes in relation to sexualities, sex/ gender, and/ or abortion. These workshops considered how we might address social polarisation, without seeking to change one another’s minds.

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 current phase of the project, we are exploring how we might work across difference and interact with each other differently.

There is little research about the experiences of people who are concerned about or opposed to legislative, political or social changes in relation to sexualities, sex/ gender, and/ or abortion (such as same sex marriage, transgender people’s inclusion policies, and sex education at school that includes things like gender identities). In Phase One of the research, researchers interviewed people who hold concerns or opposed to these political or social changes (phase one: interviews and questionnaires). Phase Two (discussion groups/workshops) brings together people with different positions on these issues to investigate how we live together across difference. We focus on Canada, Great Britain 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. 

We will use our best efforts, through our privacy and ethics policies, to create a space that allows participants to discuss their experiences without being named (unless you want to be), and we will not share any of your personal details outside of the project.  We will not deposit our data in academic archives outside the project without expressly consulting with people who consent to us keeping their personal data.  This means that other academics will not have access to the raw data, only our reports, academic publications, blogs and other publications from the research. Please read our FAQs, our Privacy Policy, our Participant Information Sheet and Contact Us to ask any questions you might have about the project.

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. Katie Young

Katie Young is Assistant Professor of Cultural Geography at Concordia University, Canada. Her research explores experiences of everyday life in Ireland, Ghana, and Canada. Her work has focussed on the intersections of everyday space and media, everyday experiences of music, and how people navigate everyday spaces through sound, including listening practices.

Dr. Carol Ballantine

Dr. Carol Ballantine is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at University College Dublin. Her research to date has focused on gender, violence and migration, using feminist, narrative and creative approaches.

Dr. Andrew McCartan

Dr. Andrew McCartan is a postdoctoral researcher at University College Dublin. He is interested in queer geographies, theories, and methodologies, and his research to date has focused on examining the mutually constitutive relationship between space, place, sexualities, and genders through activisms and social movements.