About IMAGES Studies

IMAGES studies were launched in 2008 by Promundo and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) as globally applicable surveys that can be conducted continuously. Studies have been conducted in more than 20 countries and territories. In our region, these studies have been carried out in Croatia (Bjelić, 2011), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dušanić, 2012) and Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) (Limani et al. 2017).

The aim of the research is to collect data on men and their attitudes on gender equality in order to allow awareness raising among decision-makers as well as among those who create gender policies. It has become evident over time that the inclusion of men and the “male perspective” is necessary both for the implementation of gender policies, especially those related to the fight against gender-based violence, and for very specific public policies in the field of health, education and economic development. Such development of interest is heading towards leaving the WID (women in development) orientation and accepting the GAD (gender and development) orientation in the UN-advocated transnational development policies.

The specificity of IMAGES studies is a standardized questionnaire used (7080% of identical content) in all the surveyed countries, as well as a qualitative component of the survey that varies across countries. The IMAGES questionnaire is partly inspired by the questionnaire of Gender Equality and Quality of Life survey (GEQ), conducted in Norway in 2006. The IMAGES questionnaire itself has been designed to include gender-related issues, focused on men and women in heterosexual relationships, but also to involve various forms of vulnerability stemming from the dominant gender and sexual order. Although the IMAGES questionnaire is mainly focused on heterosexual intimate partner relationships, it also includes the questions related to homosexuality, given that homophobia is treated as one of the key mechanisms in the social construction of masculinities. The questionnaire also includes some questions related to partner violence and violence suffered by men in their everyday lives.

About the method of presentation

This text presents the basic findings of research, primarily of the quantitative component and a summary of the qualitative one. For that reason, report is a dominant form. Its main goal is to provide detailed and comprehensive information (data) obtained by the questionnaire-based survey. There are several reasons for this approach, which is somewhat narrower and more simplified than the approach that would be expected, for example, in sociological research with similar methodology.

Firstly, this approach is guided by the idea that the research is intended for those who deal with gender policies, who need to have concrete and reliable data that they could use in creating such policies. Secondly, the IMAGES studies have their purpose, design and logic that does not allow a complete and in-depth contextualisation of research. In order to be comparative in a wide range of rather different gender regimes (patriarchies), these studies remain at a level that allows such comparison. In a large number of countries where these studies were conducted, they were the first “such” studies, which meant that there was no previous knowledge of how the survey could be contextualised to suit the needs of particular environment, that is – to reflect the specific characteristics of a particular gender regime. Thirdly, on one end there is the IMAGES instrument – survey, which, although evolving over the years, essentially remains unchanged, while on the other end there is not only a context, but also a specific (social, historical) time in which research is being carried out, as well as a certain theoretical starting point. However, both “theory” and “context of research” are constantly changing, just like the search for optimal gender policies. The dominant discourses that shape the approach to the topics of “gender equality” are also present in the context, at a certain historical point. This also applies to Serbia where three topics dominate: 1. the new Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence (2016)[1] 2. Draft Law on Gender Equality[2] and 3. high rates of all forms of violence including peer violence and violence against women. However, although very important, these discussions should not affect the interpretation of the results, but precisely to the contrary, they should contribute to using “hard facts” in debates, but also in some concrete policies that will be formulated. This is why the form of report, rather than a more in-depth study of causes and consequences, is far more suitable (on this occasion) for a wider use of results. Finally, the said form allows additional analyses and interpretations of these data, precisely because at this moment and in this place, the interpretation is minimised, at the expense of data and their description. In other words, the abundance of data prevails in this analysis, as it is the basis that allows their availability and further use.

The goals of this analysis have determined also other specific characteristics of the text. In order to facilitate the reception of data, the easily readable charts have been created, containing also concrete figures about the explored phenomena. Since this is a study that focuses on men, the charts referring only to women are included in Appendix (in order to allow possible additional analysis for those who are interested), while the main body of text includes only the charts referring to the comparison of women and men. Data interpretation was focused on men, not on women. However, it should be noted that neither is it necessary nor possible or useful to insist on the complete “separation” of men because men themselves are only one gender category. On the other hand, it is not good either to establish a false symmetry between women and men and to lose sight of the causality of the hierarchy created by patriarchy.