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How the idea of a Men’s Shed travels to Scandinavia

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Publication date2017
Original languageEnglish
EventLearning in later life and social inequalities - University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 15/02/201715/02/2017

Conference

ConferenceLearning in later life and social inequalities
CountryAustralia
CityMelbourne
Period15/02/1715/02/17

Abstract

Australia has around 1,000 Men’s Sheds – informal community-based workshops offering men beyond paid work somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to. They have proven to be of great benefit for older men’s learning, health and wellbeing, social integration, and for developing a positive male identity focusing on community responsibility and care. A Men’s Shed is typically self-organized and ‘bottom-up’, which is also a key success factor, since it provides participants with a sense of ownership and empowerment. Men’s Sheds are now spreading rapidly internationally, but the uptake of the idea varies with the local and national context, and so too may the consequences. Our paper describes how the Men’s Shed travelled to Denmark, a country with considerably more ‘social engineering’ than in Australia, where Sheds were opened in 2015, via a ‘top-down’ initiative sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Health. Using data from the study of the web pages of the Danish ‘Shed’ organizations, from interviews with the central organizer, and from visits and interviews with participants and local organizers at two Danish Men’s sheds, we describe how the idea of the Men’s Shed on the Australian model was interpreted and translated at central and local levels. Preliminary data indicate that similar positive benefits as in Australia may result, provided that local ownership is emphasized.