Feminist theory and practice have always focused on life – and its course or courses. This has necessarily meant in particular a concern with various and variegated gendered life courses.
What has come to be known as ‘the life course’ is necessarily partly about men and masculinities; at the same time recent theoretical debates on men and masculinities have implications for rethinking the life course. This relatively undeveloped and two-way relation of men and masculinities, on one hand, and the life course, on the other, is the subject of this special issue.
In recent years there has been a major growth of social studies of the life course, including in particular studies of childhood, older people and ageing. From at least the early 1980s, there has also been focused attention on the question of gender in and of the life course, mostly inspired by feminist scholarship, and especially interventions on older women’s lives (for example, Macdonald and Rich 1983, Rossi 1985). Around the same time a number of collections of gay men’s life stories were assembled (for example, Hall Carpenter Archives 1989, Porter and Weeks 1991), sometimes with implications for implicit or explicit critiques of the heterosexual matrix. Read more