Terry, Gareth and Braun, Virginia
“We have friends, for example, and he will not get a vasectomy”: Imagining the self in relation to others when talking about sterilisation.
Health Psychology, 32(1) pp. 100–109.
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Objective: The relatively recent interest in critical men’s health research has largely focused upon men’s experiences of managing or preventing ill health. There has been limited discussion on the decision making that men engage in with health practices that are not constructed as immediately imperative for their own well-being – such as vasectomy. Much of the research on vasectomy has tended to focus on the individualised decision making men, which can often decontextualize the process. This article seeks to address some of these absences.
Design: This article reports on data from semi-structured interviews with twenty eight men who had had vasectomies (16 with children, 12 without). Data were analysed using Wetherell and Edley’s synthetic approach to discourse analysis.
Results: Talking about vasectomy provided an opportunity for men to make sense of the self and the decision making processes within a complex and relational understanding of masculinities. Rather than an individualised decision making process, many of the men’s accounts were reliant on stories of other men who the participants could be compared against.
Conclusions: Men made sense of an ‘optional’ health decision in relation to other men (both real and imagined), in order to help justify delays, or other ‘trouble’ in the decision making processes. Men’s health initiatives and research may need to take this relational component of health decision-making into account.
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