The garage as vernacular museum: reading contemporary masculinity through ‘man caves’

Edward Elgar Publishing
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Reimagining Home in the 21st Century, 2017, 1
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Contemporary masculinity is constructed, performed and maintained through all kinds of symbolic practices and rituals. One recent kind of symbolic practice/expression is ‘man caves’ or ‘man spaces’, a certain kind of domestic space dedicated to and inhabited by primarily heterosexual men in spousal relationships: converted garages, basements, sheds, spare rooms and so forth. These spaces usually involve the storage of favourite objects, which can range from cars and car parts, motorcycles, tools, collectibles and, memorabilia, to musical and gym equipment, TVs/home theatres, alcohol paraphernalia, weapons, books, and so forth. Man caves function for building, repairing and maintaining ‘stuff’, but also as entertainment centres, as ‘toys’, as an escape into solitude or, conversely, as a place to entertain friends, as a place to express oneself in an-other way, a place to let one’s imagination run free. They are a key site for reading the performance of contemporary, urban masculinity. Within the confines of the domestic sphere, man caves promise of control over a space, its décor and the socialisation therein.
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