« Be a real man ! » Hegemonic Masculinities in a Swiss vocational school : boundary work between gender and social position in the labour market
Date de parution
Working Papers MAPS ;2
Using ethnographic material, this article analyzes the processes at work in the construction of valued masculinity among young men in a Swiss vocational school. By adopting a theoretical boundary-making approach, we argue that double boundary work takes place in order to assert a specific form of hegemonic masculinity as the only legitimate way to be “a real man”. First, young men in the school draw symbolic boundaries between themselves as hard-working, tough, heterosexual, economically responsible men on one side, and effeminate, intellectual, lazy, despicable men on the other. A second boundary is drawn towards women, relying on a specifically constructed form of femininity and institutionalized gender boundaries, where women are depicted as dependant wives whose daily activities have little value. These processes are analyzed as a strategy used by these young men to counter a socially disadvantaged position on the labour market and in the society in general. Yet, the valorization of the masculine nature of their working identity has social consequences as they contribute to reproducing unequal gender hierarchies.
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