Timescapes: an ESRC qualitative longitudinal study

Timescapes is a five-year study, designed to explore the dynamics of personal relationships and identities, and how these are forged, sustained, discarded or re-worked through the life course and across the generations.

The study comprises seven empirical research projects that focus on relationships with significant others: parents, siblings, wider family, children, partners, friends and lovers. These are fundamentally important relationships that are implicated in the way individuals define themselves, and impact on their life chances and well-being.

The study aims to produce new theoretical understandings of the micro-processes of social change and the dynamic relationship between personal and collective agency and wider structural processes. It will do so through an exploration of three linked 'timescapes': biographical, generational and historical. The data gathered in the study will be of relevance for social policy, shedding light on the dynamics of well-being, social care and the long-term resourcing of families.

The study has an important methodological focus, involving the development and scaling up of qualitative longitudinal research, and the establishment of a specialist archive of research data offering innovative methods of data management and exploitation, based on the principles of data sharing.