Absent Fathers?

Absent Fathers?

Absent Fathers?

Absent Fathers?

Synopsis

Discussing the social implications of absentee fathers, this volume provides a text for undergraduates in social policy and should also be of interest to professionals concerned with family breakdown and child support.

Excerpt

All research projects, certainly large empirical projects involving teamwork, have a natural history that affects the outcome in some way. In most publications arising from research, this story is never told. The internal discussions about design, method and interpretation, the mistakes, the reasons for delay, tensions between individuals involved and so on—all of these tend to be ignored in the articles, chapters, conference papers and books that are the product of research. There is reason to justify this behind-the-baize-door approach to presenting research. After all, the reader is interested in the findings, not the problems involved in achieving them. To set out to describe the course of the research process in a form other than the limited description of the methods routinely required, is to risk being seen as self-serving and irrelevant.

However, in this project we cannot avoid reporting what a devastating blow was the death of Carol Stimson in a car crash on 9 May 1997. She had been the named research fellow in the application for funding to ESRC. She was then the principal researcher, responsible on a day-to-day basis for the management of the work. She was the one who had done most of the scholarship, much of the thinking, handled the external relations, was most advanced in the writing and was solely responsible for the qualitative part of the study, which focused on relationships between the fathers and their children. She also happened to be the wife of Jonathan Bradshaw, the applicant, responsible for directing the project and for its successful completion.

Carol Stimson had left papers: she had completed the fieldwork and analysis of her qualitative sample; there were drafts of chapters in hard copy and on disk; also a bibliography and parts of a literature review. But those of us who were left to deal with these, as well as being personally devastated by her loss, could not rescue two particular elements of the project and the reader needs to understand this and hopefully make allowances for it.

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