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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Research project: Nuclear Families - Dormant

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Exploring the lives and experiences of the families of British nuclear test veterans.

It is exactly twenty years since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CNTBT) in 1996, a treaty which prohibited all explosive nuclear testing for both civilian and military purposes. Whilst the lives of the nuclear test veterans have been rigorously explored within the quantitative sciences, there has been limited prior academic research of the nuclear veteran family community within the social science domain.

A single relevant USA small-scale cohort study was produced 25 years ago, which examined the responses of atomic veterans and their families to radiation exposure by an in-depth interview approach (Murphy et.al. 1990). However the culture and society of the USA is not comparable to the British experience; and the scope and depth of this study is limited.

The Nuclear Families project will provide a contemporary approach to understand the lives of the families of British nuclear test veterans. The project will combine methodologies across the social and human sciences to explore this unique group. A new review of relevant literature will provide objective historical and social context to the study. A series of semi-structured interviews will be implemented to tackle themes pertaining to well-being, welfare, family dynamics, mental health, disability and stigma. Focus groups will be conducted to gain insights into group dynamics, thoughts and feelings, within the context of the cohort gaze. Finally, an ethnographic approach will provide a uniquely subjective overt participant observation of the family experience, in contrast to the other research methods. This programme of research will be complemented by demographic data and social media discourse, to contextualise the experiences of the cohort.

However, the Nuclear Families project is not just an opportunity to learn from and to understand the lives and the experiences of the families of nuclear test veterans, but also a chance to inform the direction of policy for future support to these families

Related research groups

Population, Health and Wellbeing (PHeW)

It is exactly twenty years since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CNTBT) in 1996, a treaty which prohibited all explosive nuclear testing for both civilian and military purposes. Whilst the lives of the nuclear test veterans have been rigorously explored within the quantitative sciences, there has been limited prior academic research of the nuclear veteran family community within the social science domain.

A single relevant USA small-scale cohort study was produced 25 years ago, which examined the responses of atomic veterans and their families to radiation exposure by an in-depth interview approach (Murphy et.al. 1990). However, the culture and society of the USA is not comparable to the British experience; and the scope and depth of this study is limited.

The Nuclear Families project has been conducted to provide a contemporary approach to understand the lives of both British nuclear test veterans and their families. The project combines methodologies across the social and human sciences to explore this unique group. A new review of relevant literature provides objective historical and social context to the study. A series of semi-structured interviews will be implemented to tackle themes pertaining to well-being, welfare, family dynamics, mental health, disability and stigma. Focus groups have been conducted to gain insights into group dynamics, thoughts and feelings within the context of the cohort gaze. The lives of nuclear test veterans and their families have been explored, in order to gain insight into the ways that their experiences have impacted and influenced family life, physical health and mental health. Finally, an ethnographic approach provides a uniquely subjective overt participant observation of the family experience, in contrast to other research methods. This program of research is complemented by demographic data and social media discourse, to contextualise the experiences of the cohort.

However, the Nuclear Families project is not just an opportunity to learn from and to understand the lives and the experiences of the families of nuclear test veterans, but also a chance to inform the direction of policy for future support to these families.

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