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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29913

Title: Being-doing-becoming Manly Men: A Bourdieusian Exploration of the Construction of Masculine Identities and Sexual Practices of Young Men
Authors: Wong, Josephine Pui-Hing
Advisor: Poland, Blake
McDonough, Peggy
Fusco, Caroline
Department: Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Keywords: masculinities
sexual practices
young men
Toronto, Canada
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2011
Abstract: Dominant discourses on youth sexual health construct young people as at-risk subjects who engage in risky behaviours due to ignorance or poor decision-making. This dissertation challenges the prevailing assumption embedded in these discourses that young people’s sexual behaviours are based on individual rational choices. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice and R. W. Connell’s notion of hegemonic masculinity, this dissertation uses an interpretive approach to analyze the narratives and resonant texts of 24 young men in Toronto. It explores how young men construct and perform their masculine identities in the context of their socio-spatial environment; it also examines the strategies that young men use to compete for cultural capital and dominant positions in the homosocial and (hetero)erotic fields. The analysis yields a number of findings. First, it shows that gender identity is a state of being-doing-becoming. Guided by their gender-class-race habituses, young men engage in an unceasing process of defining, affirming, declaring, and validating not only their sense of who they are (self-identity) and where they belong (collective identity), but also the boundary that differentiates the ‘Self’ from the ‘Other’. Second, there is a dialectical relationship between the young men’s masculine habituses and their sexual practices. While all the young men engaged in hegemonic masculine practices to gain ‘respect’ from their peers, their practices varied according to their classes and ethnoracial backgrounds. At the same time, their (hetero)erotic practices are intricately intertwined with their homosocial practices, whereby the intra-group masculine expectations coupled with the broad hegemonic masculine discourses assert significant influences on their interactions with both young women and other young men. Finally, hetero-guy-talk constitutes an important everyday social interaction in which young men actively engage in the (re)production and/or resistance of hegemonic masculine discourses and practices. These results suggest that effective sexual health promotion (SHP) must go beyond the focus on individual sexual behaviours to address the historical, cultural, economic, and political contexts that shape the collective sexual health practices of young men. Furthermore, it may be useful to explore ‘hetero-guy-talk’ as an important ‘third’ space where young men are invited to interrogate and resist misogynist, masculinist, and homophobic practices and be supported to engage in humanizing sexual practices.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29913
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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