9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN33 Women's and Gender Studies

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 History and Feminist Theory Building II, C4.01

Times of uncertainty - uncertain masculinities - A critical approach to questions of transforming gender orders

Looking at sociological debates about increasing precarious living conditions in post-industrial societies, we find differing ways of dealing with gender: Ignoring the gendered dimensions of social transformation while at the same time refering to a now fragile masculine position - the male breadwinner. In contrast to this well known bias in social theories we find the modernisation diagnosis that the dissolution of regular employs and the increase of discontinuities in the life course lead to an alignment of women's and men's circumstances and biographical trajectories. And, not at least, social transformation is discussed as crisis of masculinity in the context of changing gender configurations (providing for a familiy as masculinity resource). All these theoretical assumptions affirm - explicitly or implicitly - the link of full employment, working identities and masculinity.
In our paper we will discuss this theoretical implication by focussing a constellation which points to contradicting dynamics within the gender order: marginalised masculinity. Drawing on theoretical assumptions of Bourdieu (masculine domination) and Connell (hegemonic masculinity) we will exemplify our theoretical arguments by empirical findings from a qualitative longitudinal study with young males whose life course is shaped by social disatvantage and social control within the German welfare state. Enfolding the case of marginalised masculinities enables us to re-think the relation of gender, social uncertainty and biographical discontinuity which leads to open questions about transforming gender orders. The link between masculinity and gainful employment is put into motion and the complexity of the relation between power, social inequality and gender configurations become visible.