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Lecture 3

SOCB22H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Circular Reasoning, Neoliberalism, Cliff Stoudt


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCB22H3
Professor
Ping- Chun Hsiung
Lecture
3

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Oct12(wk 5)
SG Readings 3
Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept- Robert Conel
and James W. Messerschmidt
The concept of hegemonic masculinity does not equate to a model of social
reproduction; we need to recognize social struggles in which subordinated
masculinities influence dominant forms
Origin, Formation, and Application
ORIGIN
The concept of hegemonic masculinity was first proposed in reports from a field
study of social inequality in Australian high schools; in a related conceptual
discussion of the making of masculinities and the experience of mens bodies; and in
a debate over the role of men in Australian labour politics
Closely related issues were feminist theories of patriarchy and the related debates
over the role of men in transforming patriarchy
Women of colour criticised the race bias that occurs when power is solely
conceptualized in terms of sex difference, thus laying the groundwork for
questioning any universalizing claim about the category of men
Concept was also influenced by Freud
FORMULATION
Hegemonic masculinity was understood as the pattern of practice that allowed mens
dominance over women to continue
Was distinguished from other masculinities; was not assumed to be normal in the
statistical sense; only a minority of men enact it
It was normative; all other men position themselves in relation to it
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Legitimated the global subordination of women to men
Men who received benefits of patriarchy without enacting a strong version of
masculine dominance could be regarded as showing a complicit masculinity
-it was in relation to this group and to compliance among heterosexual women, that
the concept of hegemony was most powerful
Hegemony did not mean violence, though could be supported by force; it meant
ascendency achieved through culture, institutions, and persuasion
Hegemonic masculinities came into existence in specific circumstances and were
open to historical change
There could be a struggle for hegemony, and older forms of masculinity might be
displaced by new ones
APPLICATION
The concept of hegemonic masculinity was used in education studies to understand
the dynamics of classroom life, including patterns of resistance and bullying among
boys
Also had influence in criminology
Was also employed in media representations of men
Was also used to understand mens health practices, such as playing hurt and risk-
taking sexual behaviours
The concepts of hegemonic and subordinated masculinities helped in understanding
not only mens exposure to risk but also mens difficulties in responding to disability
and injury
The concept of hegemonic masculinity also proved significant in organization
studies, as the gendered character of bureaucracies and workplaces was increasingly
recognized
Hegemonic masculinity served as a framework for much of the developing research
effort on men and masculinity, replacing sex-role theory and categorical models of
patriarchy
Gender orders construct multiple masculinities
Diversity of masculinities is also found in particular institutions
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Well defined masculine identity in Mexican machismo
Masculinities are not only different but subject to change
Critiques
THE UNDERLYING CONCEPT OF MASCULINITY
Underlying concept of masculinity is flawed; blurred, uncertain in its meaning, and
tends to deemphasize issues of power and domination
Unnecessary to the task of understanding and contesting the power of men
Is flawed because it essentializes the character of men or imposes a false unity on a
fluid and contradictory reality
Is criticised for being framed within a heteronormative conception of gender that
essentializes male-female difference and ignores different and exclusion within the
gender categories
The concept of masculinity is said to rest logically on a dichotomization of sex
(biological) vs. gender (cultural) and this marginalizes or naturalizes the body
Great deal of conceptual confusion
Masculinity is not a fixed entity embedded in the body or personality traits of
individuals
In the development of the concept of hegemonic masculinity, divisions among men-
especially the exclusion and subordination of homosexual men- were quite central
issues
The idea that the concept of masculinity marginalizes or naturalizes the body is
perhaps the most startling claim in this critique
Women are seen as if not relevant in the analysis and therefore to analyze
masculinities by looking only at men and relations among men
AMBIGUITY AND OVERLAP
Australian ‘iron-man surf sports champion is popular exemplar of hegemonic
masculinity
Leads to inconsistent applications
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