The Chameleonisation of Masculinity: Jimmy’s Multiple Performances of a Working-Class Self.

Authors

  • Michael Rhys Morgan Ward Cardiff University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.17583/mcs.2015.1657

Keywords:

Young masculinity, class, heritage, performance, place, sport

Abstract

In this paper, drawing on ethnographic observations and using the case study of one working-class young man called Jimmy, I explore how multiple masculinities are displayed through a process of chameleonisation. Through outlining Jimmy’s transitions through post-compulsory education and his different social and cultural spaces, I illustrate the ways which he tries to conduct multiple performances of self. I show that in a variety of settings, with different actors and within different social interactions, Jimmy navigates between numerous conflicts in order to try and achieve both academically, with aspirations of processing into higher education and also as a successful athlete. These processes are simultaneously met with demands to achieve a socially valued form of masculinity that has been shaped by the former industrial heritage of the region. This paper argues that young working-class men are not locked into displaying just one performance of masculinity, but have the agency to switch between performances and to adopt multiple identities. However, this process which I term chameleonisation, is fraught with difficulties. This process illustrates how we must begin to think about young men having the ability to display multiple masculinities at various times, and are therefore not the barer of one all-encompassing masculinity that is always, and everywhere, the same. This process can be especially challenging for young working-class men who live in areas of economic change and want to be successful across different areas of their lives.

Author Biography

Michael Rhys Morgan Ward, Cardiff University

Centre for Lifelong Learning.


References

Adamson, D. 2008. Still Living on the Edge? Contemporary Wales, 21, pp. 47-66.

Anderson, Elijah. 1999. Code of the Street. Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner City. New York: WW Norton and Company.

Anderson, Eric. 2009. Inclusive Masculinity: The Changing Nature of Masculinities. London: Routledge.

Beasley, C 2012. 'Problematising contemporary Men/Masculinities theorising', British Journal of Sociology, 63(4), pp. 747-765.

Carrigan, T. Connell, R.W and Lee. J. 1985. Towards a new sociology of masculinity. Theory and Society 14(5), pp. 551-604.

Connell, R. W. 1989. Cool guys, swots and wimps: The interplay of masculinity and education. Oxford Review of Education 15(3), pp. 291-303.

Connell, R. W. 1990. An iron man: The body and some contradictions of hegemonic masculinity. In: Messner, M. and Sabo, D. (eds) Sport, Men and the Gender Order. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Books, pp. 83-99.

Connell, R. W. 1995. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity.

Connell, R. W. 2001. Introduction and overview. Feminism & Psychology 11(1), p. 5-9.

Connell, R. W. and Messerschmidt, J. W. 2005. Hegemonic masculinity: Rethinking the concept. Gender and Society 19(6), pp. 829-859.

Edley, N. Wetherell, M., 1997, Jockeying for position: The construction of masculine identities, Discourse & Society, 8(2), 203-217.

Frosh, S., Phoenix, A. and Pattman, R. 2002. Young Masculinities. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Goffman, E. [1956] 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday, Anchor Books.

Goffman, E. 1974. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper and Row.

Goffman, E. 1976. Gender Display. Studies in the Anthropology of Visible Communication 3, pp. 69-77.

Grazian, D. 2007. The Girl Hunt: Urban Nightlife and the Performance of Masculinity as Collective Activity. Symbolic Interaction 30(2), pp. 221-243.

Haywood, C. and Mac an Ghaill, M. 1997. 'A man in the making': Sexual masculinities within changing training cultures. Sociological Review 45(4), pp. 576-590.

Heward, C. 1996. Masculinities and families. In: Mac an Ghaill, M. (ed.) Understanding Masculinities. Buckingham: Open University Press, pp. 35-49.

Hughey, M. 2011. Backstage Discourse and the Reproduction of White Masculinities. The Sociological Quarterly 52(1), pp. 132-153.

Ingram, N. 2009. Working-class boys, educational success and the misrecognition of working class culture. British Journal of Sociology of Education 30(4), pp. 421–434.

Jackson, S. and Scott, S. 2010. Rehabilitating Interactionism for a Feminist Sociology of Sexuality. Sociology 44(5), pp. 811-826.

Kehily, M. J. and Nayak, A. 1997. 'Lads and laughter': Humour and the production of heterosexual hierarchies. Gender and Education 9(1), pp. 69-87.

Kenway, J. and Kraack, A. 2004. Reordering work and destabilizing masculinity. In: Dolby, N. et al. (eds) Learning to Labor in New Times. New York: RoutledgeFalmer, pp. 95-109.

Kenway, J., Kraack, A., and Hickey-Moody, A. (2006) Masculinity beyond the Metropolis. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Le Berre, F. 2009. The Chameleon Handbook. New York: Barron's Educational Series.

Lucey, H., Melody, J. and Walkerdine, V. 2003. Uneasy hybrids: Psychosocial aspects of becoming educationally successful for working-class young women. Gender and Education 15(3), pp. 285-299.

Mac an Ghaill, M. 1994. The Making of Men. Buckingham: Open University Press.

McCormack, M. and Anderson, E. 2010. 'It's Just Not Acceptable Any More': The Erosion of Homophobia and the Softening of Masculinity at an English Sixth Form. Sociology 44(5), pp. 843-859.

McDowell, L. 2003. Redundant Masculinities. Oxford: Blackwell.

MacLeod, J. 1995. Ain't No Making It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low-income Neighbourhood. Oxford: Westview Press.

Martino, W. 1999. 'Cool boys', 'party animals', 'squids' and 'poofters': Interrogating the dynamics and politics of adolescent masculinities in school. British Journal of Sociology of Education 20(2), pp. 239-263.

Martino, W. and Pallotta-Chiarolli, M. 2003. So What's A Boy? Addressing Issues of Masculinity and Schooling. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Morris, E. 2012. Learning the Hard Way: Masculinity, Place, and the Gender Gap in Education. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press

Nayak, A. 2003. 'Boyz to men': Masculinities, schooling and labour transitions in de-industrial times. Educational Review 55(2), pp. 147-159.

Nayak, A. 2006. Displaced masculinities: Chavs, youth and class in the post-industrial city. Sociology 40(5), pp. 813-831.

Office for National Statistics (ONS). 2014. Local authority profile, Rhondda, Cynon, Taff, local authority [Online]. Available at: www.nomisweb.co.uk [Accessed: 21st December 2014].

Parker, A. 2006. Lifelong learning to labour: Apprenticeship, masculinity and communities of practice. British Educational Research Journal 32(5), pp. 687-701.

Pascoe, C. J. 2007. Dude You're A Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Reay, D. 2002. Shaun's Story: Troubling discourses of white working-class masculinities. Gender and Education 14(3), pp. 221-234.

Redman, P. and Mac an Ghaill, M. 1997. Educating Peter, The Making of a History Man. In: Steinberg, D. et al. eds. Border Patrols: Policing the boundaries of heterosexuality. London: Cassell, pp. 162-182.

Richardson, D. 2010. Youth masculinities: Compelling male heterosexuality. British Journal of Sociology 61(4), pp. 737-756.

Roberts. S. 2013. Boys will be boys...won't they? Change and continuities in contemporary young working-class masculinities, Sociology, 47(4), pp. 671-686.

Roberts, S. (Ed) 2014. Debating Modern Masculinities, Change, Continuity, Crisis? Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan.

Schrock, D. and Schwalbe, M. 2009. Men, Masculinity and Manhood Arts. Annual Review of Sociology. 35, pp. 377-395.

Walkerdine, V. 2010. Communal Beingness and Affect: An Exploration of Trauma in an Ex-industrial Community. Body & Society. Vol. 16 (1), pp. 91–116.

Williams, G. A. 1985. When Was Wales? Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Willis, P. 1977. Learning to Labour, How working class kids get working class jobs. Farnborough: Saxon House.

Downloads

Published

2015-10-21

How to Cite

Ward, M. R. M. (2015). The Chameleonisation of Masculinity: Jimmy’s Multiple Performances of a Working-Class Self. Masculinities &Amp; Social Change, 4(3), 215–240. https://doi.org/10.17583/mcs.2015.1657

Issue

Section

Articles