The Social Constructions of Hegemonic Masculinity

Men’s Studies on the Way of Normalization

This introduction makes a review of the history of masculinity studies and finds the place of analyses presented later in this trajectory. The review starts from the late ’40s, mid ’50s sociological texts when first theories exploring the structural position of men in the society emerged. Parsons and his colleagues are designated as the main theoreticians of the first wave of masculinity studies that drew distinction between “sex roles” and attempted to encompass the functions of these roles in structuring and reproducing social relations. The structural functionalist approach was challenged by conflict theorists later in the ‘50s, ‘60s. Scholars applying primarily Marxist methodology criticized sex role theorists for their static views on society that are unable to capture historical changes and the relations between social structures and agency. This second wave of masculinity studies, instead of concentrating merely on differences between gender groups, recognized differences also within them.

The proliferation of various kinds of feminist thoughts and of gender-related movements in the ‘70s allowed the representatives of the second wave also to establish strong links to the second wave of feminism as well as to social activism. However, among male groups and movements organized in the ‘70s and ‘80s many were proponents of anti-feminism. Although the concepts, methodologies, and paradigms employed by representatives of the second wave of masculinity studies were quite various, a common theoretical ground was constituted by the contestation of Parsonsian structural-functionalism, yet also by the rejection of poststructuralist approaches to gender issues. Traces of this form of “modernism” can still be found in sociological analyses of masculinities, regardless of the prevalence of the Foucauldian or Butlerian approaches from the early ‘90s.

Miklos Hadas argues that Connell’s and her colleagues’ theory on hegemonic masculinities pertains to the second wave of masculinities studies, while considers Demetrakis’ critique representing a poststructuralist approach, however, remaining within the same theoretical frameworks offered by the original, contested piece. Whitehead’s analysis is conceived as an instance of the third wave of masculinity studies which points well at the limitations of the legal-discursive theories of gender relations applied by Connell, Carrigan and Lee as well. Hadas acknowledges the significance of some

Released: Replika 69, 27–41.
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