Raewyn Connell

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Raewyn Connell in 2010

Raewyn W. (R.W.) Connell (born 3 January 1944) is an Australian sociologist, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Sydney and known for the concept of hegemonic masculinity and southern theory. The prime focus of her research is through gender studies, masculinity studies, and transgender studies.


  • Research is something that everyone can do, and everyone ought to do. It is simply collecting information and thinking systematically about it. The word ‘research’ carries overtones of abstruse statistics and complex methods, white coats and computers. Some social research is highly specialised but most is not; much of the best research is logically very straightforward. Useful research on many problems can be done with small resources, and should be a regular part of the life of any thoughtful person involved in social action.
    • Raewyn Connell et al. (1975). How to do small surveys – a guide for students in sociology, kindred industries and allied trades. School of Social Sciences. Flinders University. p. 1.

Masculinities (1995)[edit]

Masculinities is a 1995 work on Gender Theory focusing on the nature of Masculinity in the contemporary era.

  • Gender terms are contested because the right to account for gender is claimed by conflicting discourses and systems of knowledge. We can see this in everyday situations as well as in high theory.
    • Chapter One, Rival Knowledges
  • The sociology of knowledge showed, two generations ago, how major world-views are based on the interests and experiences of major social groups. Research on the sociology of science, giving fascinating glimpses of laboratory life and prestige hierarchies among scientists, has revealed the social relations underpinning knowledge in the natural sciences. The point is reinforced by Michel Foucault's celebrated researches on 'power-knowlege', the intimate interweaving of new sciences (such as medicine, criminology, and sexology) with new institutions and forms of social control (clinics, prisons, factories, psychotherapy).
    • Chapter One, Rival Knowledges
  • The dominance of science in discussions of masculinity thus reflects the position of masculinity (or specific masculinities) in the social relations of gender.
    • Chapter One
  • Crisis tendencies in power relations threaten hegemonic masculinity directly. These tendencies are highlighted in the lives of men who live and work with feminists in setting where gender hierarchy has lost all legitimacy. The radical environmental movement is such a setting. Men in this movement must be dealing, in one way or another, with demands for the reconstruction of masculinity.
    • Part Two, Introduction
  • IN the established gender order, relations of cathexis are organized mainly through the heterosexual couple.
  • Masculinity is necessarily in question in the lives of men whose sexual interest is in other men. Men in gay and bisexual networks will be dealing with issues about gender quite as serious as environmentalists', though differently structured.
    • Part Two, Introduction
  • Rather than attempting to define masculinity as an object ( a natural character type, a behavioral average, a norm), we need to focus on the processes and relationships through which men and women conduct gendered lives. 'Masculinity', to the extent the term can be briefly defined at all, is simultaneously a place in gender relations, the practices through which men and women engage that place in gender, and the effects of these practices in bodily experience, personality and culture.
    • Chapter Three, "The Social Organization of Masculinity"
  • Gender is a way in which social practice is ordered. In gender processes, the everyday conduct of life is organized in relation to a reproductive arena, defined by the bodily structures and processes of human reproduction. This arena includes sexual arousal and intercourse, childbirth and infant care, bodily sex difference and similarity.
    • Chapter Three, "The Social Organization of Masculinity"
  • Recognizing multiple masculinities, especially in an individualist culture such as the United States, risks taking thm for alternative lifestyles, a matter of consumer choice. A relational approach makes it easier to recognize the hard compulsions under which gender configurations are formed, the bitterness as well as the pleasure in gendered experience.
    • Chapter Three, "The Social Organization of Masculinity"
  • Hegemonic masculinity can be defined as the configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimacy of patriarchy, which guarantees (or is taken to guarantee) the dominant position of men and the subordination of women.
    • Chapter Three, "The Social Organization of Masculinity"
  • Arguments that masculinity should change often come to grief, not on counter-against reform, but on the belief that men cannot change, so it is futile or even dangerous to try. Mass culture generally assumes there is a fixed, true masculinity beneath the ebb and flow of daily life. We hereof 'real men' 'natural man', the 'deep masculine'. This idea is now shared across an impressive spectrum including the mythopoetic men's movement, Jungian psychoanalysts, Christian fundamentalists, sociobiologists and the essentialist school of feminism.
    • Men's Bodies
  • A familiar theme in patriarchal ideology is that men are rational while women are emotional. This is a deep-seated assumption in European philosophy. It is one of the leading ideas in sex role theory, in the form of the instrumental/expressive dichotomy, and it is widespread in popular culture too. Science and technology, seen by dominant ideology as the motors of progress, are culturally defined as a masculine realm. Hegemonic masculinity establishes its hegemony partly by its claim to embody the power of reason, and thus represent the interests of the whole society; it is a mistake to identify hegemonic masculinity purely with physical aggression.
    • Chapter 7, "Men of Reason"
  • In gender terms, fascism was a naked reassertion of male supremacy in societies that had been moving towards equality for women. To accomplish this, fascism promoted new images of hegemonic masculinity, glorifying irrationality (the 'triumph of the will', thinking with 'the blood') and the unrestrained violence of the frontline soldier. Its dynamics soon led to a new and even more devastating global war.
    • Chapter 8
  • The novels of James Fenimore Cooper and the Wild West show of Buffalo Bill Cody were earl steps in a course that led eventually to the Western as a film genre and its self-conscious cult of inarticulate masculine heroism. The historian John MacKenzie has called attention to the similar cult of the hunter in the late nineteenth-century British empire. Wilderness, hunting and bushcraft were welded into a distinct ideology of manhood by figures such as Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the scouting movement for boys, and Theodore Roosevelt in the United States.
    • Chapter 8
  • The scouting movement celebrated the frontier, but it was actually a movement for boys in the metropole. Here it took its place in a long series of attempts to foster particular forms of masculinity among boys. Other moments in this history include the nineteenth-century reform of the British elite public school, in the period after Dr Arnold; the Church of England Boys' Brigade directed at working-class youth; the German youth movement at the turn of the century; the Hitler Youth, turned into a mass institution when the Nazis came to power in Germany; and widespread attempts at military training of secondary school boys through army cadet corps, still operating in Australia when I was in high school in 1960.
    • Chapter 8
  • It is a cliche that the gun is a penis-symbol as well as a weapon. Gun organizations are conventionally masculine in cultural style; hunting and gun magazines dress their models in check shirts and boots to emphasize their masculinity. The gun lobby hardly has to labour the inference that politicians trying to take away our guns are emasculating us. At both symbolic and practical levels, the defense of gun ownership is a defence of hegemonic masculinity.
    • Chapter 9
  • Thus feminism is more than contesting the discursive positioning of women; feminism involves peaceable households and cooperative child care, and so on. The labour movement tries to create more democratic workplaces; anti-colonial movements build structures of self-government. All of these movements create new cultural forms and circulate new knowledge.
    • Chapter 9, pp. 229

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