My research interests, like those of many academics, comes out of my own particular experiences. Growing up to be a man within an environment strongly influenced by feminist and working-class politics, I have struggled to both understand how the many different aspects of social placement and individual agency work together to either re-inforce current social structures or help create social change.
Ideas and practices of masculinity seem to be consistently replicated over generations and continue to carry a great deal of political and social power despite the varied and extensive critiques of masculine behaviour that have been offered over time. The creation of this normative masculinity and whether this social reproduction can be disrupted is one of my dominant concerns. Sorting out how the production and reproduction of masculinities works requires understanding of gender constructions, how social change may happen and what sort of agency individuals and groups exercise within the constraints of social reproduction. Masculinity represents not just a specific constellation of sexualized and gendered characteristics but often positions within a field in which power relationships help determine access to resources and privileges or subjection to oppression and privation. These power relationships give particular impetus to the enforcement and reproduction of masculine norms and sometimes savage vehemence to opposition to forms of masculinity (or even desires for masculinity) that do not conform to normative expectations.
I use the theoretical ideas that have been developed by Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Raewynn Connell, and Jack Halberstam, amongst others. I am also interested in the phenomenological understanding of methods while continuing to ground my work in ethnographic research while also including an understanding of the lessons and limits of conventional statistical analysis of larger groups.