Hegemonic Masculinity and the History of Gender

TitleHegemonic Masculinity and the History of Gender
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsTosh, John
EditorDudink, Stefan, Karen Hagemann, and John Tosh
Book TitleMasculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History
PublisherManchester University Press

Probably the most widely applied theoretical approach to masculinity employed by historians is that of hegemonic masculinity first outlined by Raewyn W. Connell in 1983. Hegemonic masculinity means those masculine attributes which are most widely subscribed to in a given social formation: the ‘common sense’ of gender as lived by all men save those whose masculinity is oppositional or deviant. There is an assumption that all men will match these requirements, not because they are ‘natural’, but because they are the passport to acceptance by other men. It denotes the masculinity, which is prevalent in the politically dominant class, with the implication that many of its features will be imposed on other classes, either by compulsion or through the pressure of social prestige. This definition draws attention to the fact that hegemonic masculinity is not merely a code of conduct, but a cluster of inter-related values expressed in civic ideals and national traditions. This chapter in the 2004 edited volume Masculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History will discuss this approach and evaluate how far it meets the needs of current historiography.

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