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      ‘It's most of my life – going to the pub or the group’: the social networks of involuntarily childless older men

      Ageing and Society
      Cambridge University Press (CUP)

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          Abstract

          The social networks of older people are a significant influence on their health and wellbeing. Adult children are an important element in their parent's network and provide the majority of informal care. The morphology of personal networks alters with age, employment, gender and relationships. Not having children automatically reduces both vertical familial structure and affects the wider formal and informal social links that children can bring. Childless men are missing from gerontological, reproduction, sociological and psychological research. These fields have all mainly focused on family and women. This paper reports on an auto/biographical qualitative study framed by biographical, feminist, gerontological and lifecourse approaches. Data were gathered from semi-structured biographical interviews with 14 self-defined involuntarily childless men aged between 49 and 82 years old. A latent thematic analysis highlighted the complex intersections between childlessness and individual agency, relationships and socio-cultural structures. The impact of major lifecourse events and non-events had significant implications for how childless people perform and view their social and self-identity. I argue that involuntary childlessness affects the social, emotional and relational aspects of men's lived experience across the lifecourse.

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          Different Strokes from Different Folks: Community Ties and Social Support

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            The experience of infertility: a review of recent literature.

            About 10 years ago Greil published a review and critique of the literature on the socio-psychological impact of infertility. He found at the time that most scholars treated infertility as a medical condition with psychological consequences rather than as a socially constructed reality. This article examines research published since the last review. More studies now place infertility within larger social contexts and social scientific frameworks although clinical emphases persist. Methodological problems remain but important improvements are also evident. We identify two vigorous research traditions in the social scientific study of infertility. One tradition uses primarily quantitative techniques to study clinic patients in order to improve service delivery and to assess the need for psychological counselling. The other tradition uses primarily qualitative research to capture the experiences of infertile people in a sociocultural context. We conclude that more attention is now being paid to the ways in which the experience of infertility is shaped by social context. We call for continued progress in the development of a distinctly sociological approach to infertility and for the continued integration of the two research traditions identified here.
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              Displaying Families

              J Finch (2007)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                Ageing and Society
                Ageing and Society
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                0144-686X
                1469-1779
                July 3 2019
                : 1-26
                Article
                10.1017/S0144686X19000837
                809279bb-6316-4158-995d-7ff015fc98c7
                © 2019

                https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms

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