From cradle to grave: Challenging stereotypes about family life

Case study

The challenge

Conversations about death and dying do not happen enough and can often be difficult and upsetting. Dr Laura King’s work created the opportunity for these sensitive conversations to happen and challenged stereotypes about the role of men in childbirth and family life in 20th century Britain.  

The solution

King increased our knowledge about contemporary family life and male involvement in childbirth and fatherhood by analysing a range of sources. She also strengthened our understanding of how death is managed by different cultures in Britain. Through working with artists, museums and community groups, to showcase a wide range of people’s personal stories, she encouraged conversations about family life and death.  

The impact

King’s research helped shape the delivery of probation services and policy on gender equality and employment. King’s work highlights the deep-rooted nature of assumptions around the male ‘breadwinner’ role in the family and helped young men engage with their role as a ‘father’. Her work around death influenced the national debate concerning remembrance, and her work with digital technologies shaped professional practice in museums. Through her work, King shows how studying the past can help us see our present more clearly and change it for the better.