Lads, Machos and Others: Developing ‘Boy-Centred’ Research

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This paper seeks to address boys experiences of themselves by investigating recent research which has explored the construction of masculine 'identities' through ethnographic, observational and interview methods. The paper is as much about the effectiveness of such investigative methods in 'de-centring' or deconstructing masculinity as it is about the experiences of boys and the kinds of masculinities which such research documents. As Rattansi and Phoenix (forthcoming) point out, 'de-centring' the subject or, in Hall's terms, addressing the 'post-modern subject', means conceptualising it as relational rather than self-contained. Thus, masculinity is understood as meaningful only in relation to femininity and as constructed through an interplay of opposites and alternatives. Gendered identities cannot then be usefully conceptualised as monolithic and stable, and attempts to make them so are always forged in tension and liable to dissolution.

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