Changing Masculinity Ideals in a Danish Context

Lotte Bloksgaard, Ann-Dorte Christensen

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The purpose of this paper is to localize and discuss different masculinity ideals in a Danish context, and how these are overlapping and competing.

The paper is based primarily on results from five focus group interviews with higher and lower educated men, respectively (n=50).

This qualitative analysis builds on a survey conducted in the project ‘MARS’, which analyses the relation between masculinity and work-related accidents in two male dominated occupations. The survey shows that traditional masculinity ideals (the MRNI scale, Levant 2007) only find very low support (10 %) among the workers, indicating that Danish masculinity ideals may be under change. Also several Nordic studies emphasize that traditional masculinity ideals are challenged by new, more ‘modern’ masculinity ideals related to fatherhood, child care and gender equality.

The first part of the paper develops an analytical model based on a critical discussion of R. Connell’s theoretical concept of hegemonic masculinity. We emphasize that masculinity ideals are changing and contextualized and that analyses must be able to grasp complexities in form of overlapping, co-existing and competing masculinities.

The main part of the paper is an empirical analysis of different masculinity ideals in contemporary Danish society (the emotional man, the ideal masculine worker, and the involved father). The analysis indicates that dominant masculinity ideals in Denmark are relatively oriented towards families and towards gender equality. However, at the micro level the picture get more blurred, and consensus about dominating masculinity ideals (related to gender equality) are characterized by complexity and ambiguity: In practice ambiguous masculinity ideals has been located that both support gender equality (for example involved fatherhood) and masculinity ideals that support traditional gender division. Thus, the analysis identifies change and continuity at the same time. We can also conclude that masculinity ideals in some areas (here especially involved fatherhood) is characterized by variations in relation to class and age/generation. The analysis points to the existence of multiple masculinity ideals that are co-existing, contradictionary and negotiated both at the collective level and in the identity construction of the individual man.
StatusUdgivet - 2014
BegivenhedNordic conference on Men and Masculinities - Reykjavik, Island
Varighed: 4 jun. 20146 jun. 2014


KonferenceNordic conference on Men and Masculinities