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Hegemonic Masculinity and the Possibility of Change in Gender Relations

Duncanson, C. (2015). “Hegemonic Masculinity and the Possibility of Change in Gender Relations.” Men and Masculinities 18(2): 231-248.
Hegemonic masculinity was introduced as a concept which, due to its understanding of gender as dynamic and relational, and of power as consent, could explain both the persistence of male power and the potential for social change. Yet, when hegemonic masculinity is applied in empirical cases, it is most often used to demonstrate the way in which hegemonic masculinity shifts and adopts new practices in order to enable some men to retain power over others. This is especially so in feminist International Relations, particularly studies of military masculinities, where shifts toward “softer” military masculinities such as the “tough and tender” soldier-scholar demonstrate to many feminists merely the “flexibility of the machinery of rule”. In this article, I challenge the pessimism of these accounts of military masculinity. My particular contribution is to build on an emergent and underdeveloped strand of Connell’s work on hegemonic masculinity: how change might be theorized. I argue that hegemonic masculinity remains a useful concept, but that the process through which hegemony may fail requires rethinking. I make this argument by exploring and working through empirical material on military masculinities, drawing on both my own research and critical analysis of the literature.


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