Men and reproductive timings: perceptions, intentions and future imaginaries




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Peer reviewed


The sociology of human reproduction is a vibrant and growing field, and the phenomenon of ‘delayed childbearing’, or reproductive timings, is a particularly topical area of study. However, the vast majority of research regarding reproductive timings is concerned with women, which, scholars have argued, overemphasises female responsibility, leaving men’s positions and behaviours neglected. Despite a growing interest in men and reproduction in recent years, the majority of this research has been concerned with fatherhood, leaving other aspects overlooked including pre-conception desires and planning. Sociological explorations of the future have tended to focus at the macro level, concerned with developments in science and technology. Applying sociological explorations of the future at the individual level presents exciting new opportunities for enhancing understanding and for theoretical development. This paper presents findings from a doctoral, qualitative study into men and reproductive timings in which 25 interviews were conducted with men who do not have children but want or expect to have them in the future. Drawing on Daniels’ (2006) concept of ‘reproductive masculinity’ - which demonstrates how men are assumed to be secondary in reproduction; less vulnerable to reproductive harm; virile; and distant from health problems of offspring – it discusses how men’s future imaginaries are shaped by expectation and uncertainty, hope and fear, and knowledge and belief. In describing men’s accounts of the present and their imagined futures, it will explore how the present is orientated to the future through future-creating actions, and conversely how future imaginaries are shaped and rationalised by present circumstances.




Law, C (2018) Men and reproductive timings: perceptions, intentions and future imaginaries. Paper presented to the conference Remaking Reproduction: The Global Politics of Reproductive Technologies, University of Cambridge, 27-19 June 2018


Research Institute

Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)