1. Correcting the Minimal Ethical Risk form:

  • “personally sensitive” questions are to be formulated and laid out carefully. There needs to be a possibility for people to opt out (a “prefer not to say” box for instance). The questions need to be generally formulated so that they cannot be perceived as an extraction by any kind of force of personal information. 

2. Defining the research question further

  • Question agreed upon last week: “To what extent are the uncertainties surrounding social conduct expectations limiting men from expressing their emotions ?” (probably taken as sub-title of a more general heading). 
  • “uncertainties, “social conduct expectations” and “men expressing their emotions” are the three factors that will have to be articulated together in the results obtained through empirical research.
  • important point for the contextualisation of the research: Àine found in her last reading that there is limited research about male mental health. 
  • possibility to include questions about nationality in the research (perhaps as qualitative questions in the questionnaires).

3. Thinking about data collection

  • reading about the designing of questionnaires and general methodology issues in social science research in Social Research Methods by Alan Bryman.
  • thinking about the sample size: 100 to 200 would be best. 
  • in addition to quantitative data, possibility of including qualitative data with “elite interviews” (perhaps from people within mental health care institutions, ideally by email) in order to fill in gaps and ambiguities that may come with the results of the quantitative research. 

4. In the next weeks

  • substantial amount of reading needed for the elaboration of the questionnaires. One interesting piece is The Colour Of Madness Anthology: Exploring BAME mental health in the UK by Samara Linton and Rianna Walcott.
  • we should start reaching out to our empirical sources around reading week (which means having designed the questionnaire and the interviews questions)
  • Week 8 is a good deadline objective for having collected our data in order to start processing it.

Yukio Mishima and research question idea

Thanks Aine for the overview of last session ! 

While reflecting on how comparative literature could bring to the table when dealing with gender and mental-health, I started by quickly trying to find a few examples of literature dealing directly or indirectly with the subject (there obviously are many). One example came to mind more cogently than the others: Japanese writer Yukio Mishima. 

He is a truly fascinating character in addition to being a great writer. His life is probably as tragic as can be. All of his work is driven by his relation to his gender and sexuality (in particular a very complex and dramatic relation to his own homosexuality). He can also probably be considered as one of the first modern bodybuilders which obvisouly isn’t merely incidental (he dedicated an essay about it: Sun and Steel, 1968).

This gave me an idea for a possible research question. The body (body self-images, body representations in the media and elsewhere, etc.) seems to be a rather precise way of addressing gender and mental health but also allows for many other issues to which it is interrelated to come into play:

“In what ways and to which extent do body representations in the media affect mental health ?” could be a start for a research question. 

  • Perhaps we would want to make the question about male or female body representations more specifically or perhaps we think these cannot really be dealt with separately. 
  • We also need a space and time frame. The portraits and questionnaires would make it strongly anchored in the present. Considering the emphasis we intend to put on media representation, one general time frame could reach as far back as post-WWII capitalism (with consumerism and mass advertising). We could still remain more focused on present times. The space frame would probably require more discussion during our next meeting as this can greatly change the issues we set out to address. 

Here are some resources about Mishima (and more specifically about his thinking around the body):