Plural Masculinities: The Remaking of the Self in Private Life

Plural Masculinities: The Remaking of the Self in Private Life

The primary challenge, and main aim, of the proposed project is to offer a contemporary portrait of the plural dynamics and forms of masculinity, which emphasizes the multiple, even contradictory, pathways through which men are remaking their identities. By looking at men as partners and fathers, the book proposes a simple, but compelling thesis, that rather than a single development - from institution to companionship or from the male provider to the male carer -, men's practices and identities are changing into multiple, hybrid, even paradoxical, forms, as men seek to find a new place in private life. We intend to place men and masculinities in the realm of family life, of its history and change, or have explored the linkages between empirical plurality found among real men living in real families and the reconstitution of hegemonic masculinity(ies), as ideological features emerging from gendered relations of domination.

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
No
Keywords: 

Gender, Hegemony, Masculinities, Plurality

The primary challenge, and main aim, of the proposed project is to offer a contemporary portrait of the plural dynamics and forms of masculinity, which emphasizes the multiple, even contradictory, pathways through which men are remaking their identities. By looking at men as partners and fathers, the book proposes a simple, but compelling thesis, that rather than a single development - from institution to companionship or from the male provider to the male carer -, men's practices and identities are changing into multiple, hybrid, even paradoxical, forms, as men seek to find a new place in private life. We intend to place men and masculinities in the realm of family life, of its history and change, or have explored the linkages between empirical plurality found among real men living in real families and the reconstitution of hegemonic masculinity(ies), as ideological features emerging from gendered relations of domination.

Objectivos: 
The erosion of patriarchy, which constitutes today a major inheritance from the XXth century, alongside the remaking of family organization towards democracy, individualization and self-expression, seems to draw men into different movements of change, thus portraying a plural culture of masculinity, which we aim at analysing, thus, developing the state of the art in this area of study. These trends emerged within the historical changes that underpinned massive transformations at the core of the gender order. Women's emancipation, either through paid work or the conquest of sexual freedom, the relative decline of the male-breadwinner model, the pluralization of family forms, the growing legitimacy of previously stigmatised behaviours (such as homosexuality), and, broadly, the dismantling of gender differences as naturalized categories have raised new demands on traditional gender segregation. In contemporary societies, the decline of Durkeim's or Parsons's earlier "modern family", which prevailed symbolically dominant until the late fifties, had further implications to both femininities, masculinities and, more importantly, to the relationship between both. The contemporary emphasis on masculinities and men responds to renewed concerns with change and plurality, both at the macro-institutional, political and economical level and at the micro-level of male agency and reinterpretation.
State of the art: 
The project's core questions are the following. How are masculinities changing? How can they change? And, if so, how is gender domination being reconstituted in a world where patriarchy is being eroded? <p>In order to provide answers to these problems, the first step is to reflect on the proper notion of hegemonic masculinities. Hegemony, as applied by Connell to masculinity in an inspiring tying up of Gramsci's approach to power with a theory of practice, is a powerful notion meant to capture the ideological structures of gender relations. Resulting from processes of domination (e.g., Bourdieu, 1998), masculinity crystallizes itself into institutional forms, social representations and values as well as in embodied ethos and hexis. At each moment, processes of domination are (re)producing hegemony at the ideological level. Hegemony is thus the compound of multiple and entangled domination actions. The distinction between hegemony, as a static photo of what in a given moment in time is at centre of the ideological field, and domination, as a social process existing in practices, is, thus, important to comprehend plurality in the lives of real men, who may combine contradictory references when relating themselves to models of masculinity. Thus, the starting point is to propose a heuristic distinction between hegemony and domination. The truth is that domination takes place in everyday interaction, even if it is not related to ideological hegemony (e.g., S. Whitehead, 2002). On the other hand, there are also particular forms of hegemony within specific subgroups. Among subordinated or marginal masculinities there are permanent struggles for supremacy.</p>Secondly, it is also necessary to develop the reflection about hegemony by relating it with the hybrid character of masculinity (e.g., Demetriou, 2001). The notion of hybridism and its application to gender relations has emerged well connected to post-colonial debates, to post-structuralism and to contemporary feminisms. However, it is proposed a different use of this analytical tool, by placing it in the context of family history. This strategy serves two purposes. The first is to reflect upon the composite nature of hegemonic masculinity, by advocating that early modernity's masculinities never ceased to be hybrid. They revolved around the tension between the predator and the provider. The making of the modern family is to a certain extent the history of the codification of masculinity; thus, hybridism is part of masculinity's deepest nature. This second assumption ties up with the starting argument of the chapter and proposes that hegemony is dependent on permanent inner struggles between different forms of domination. That is, hegemonic masculinity is not just symbol of domination over women and other forms of masculinity, but rather it is particularity dependent on conflict and tension within it. It is, in a larger sense, in the history and change of family life that one finds empirical evidence to such an understanding of the dynamics of masculinities.
Parceria: 
Unintegrated
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/01/2008
End Date: 
01/12/2009
Duração: 
23 meses
Closed