Article dated: 29 May 2007
Timescapes is a £4.5 million, five year study designed to shed light on the dynamics of personal relationships over the life course, and the identities that flow from those relationships. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the study will use and develop qualitative longitudinal (QL) methods of enquiry. The research will focus on relationships with significant others - parents, siblings, wider family, children, partners, friends and lovers. These are fundamentally important dimensions of life, influencing the way individuals define themselves and affecting their life chances and well being. The data and findings will be of relevance for social policy, shedding light on the dynamics of social care and long-term resources for families.
The Timescapes study will explore the significance of time in people's lives. Time is understood not in simple linear terms but as a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon. There are three Timescapes in the study: biographical time of an individual life; generational time, which links people with their own generation and those of their parents and children; and historical time, the way people locate themselves in relation to external events, shifting policy landscapes, and environments, both local and global. A key aim of the study is to enrich understanding of social processes and social change by exploring the links between biography and history.
Timescapes is built on seven empirical projects located in varied geographical and cultural settings in England, Wales and Scotland. The projects will feed into three strands of work. In Strand 1, the data will be drawn together to create a working archive of QL data on the dynamics of personal lives and relationships. In association with ESDS Qualidata, the project will develop methods for the organisation and display of QL data. Strand 2 will foster and showcase the re-use of the data set within and beyond the academic community, using strategies such as a secondary analysis project. Strand 3 will entail a range of knowledge exchange/transfer activities, including workshops and conferences, web sites, methodological round tables and publications.
The programme, which began in February 2007, will be led by Dr Bren Neale of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Leeds University, in collaboration with colleagues from South Bank, Cardiff, Edinburgh and the Open University.