Masculinity studies and the jargon of strategy: Hegemony, tautology, sense
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Angelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 2015, 20 (1), pp. 13 - 30
- Issue Date:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis. This article interrogates "masculinity" as a named object of study for the social sciences, and sociology in particular, by drawing on the analysis of sense and language in Gilles Deleuze's The Logic of Sense (1969). While rejecting essentialist definitions of masculine attributes, sociologists have long insisted that masculinity can be defined as a strategic articulation in the pursuit of social goals. Developing Deleuze's notion of the "singularity" within signifying series, this article argues that sociological emphases on goal-oriented practices have elided important problems around the individuation of social relations, as well as neglecting the subsequent textual work of naming such relations as masculine. To develop this argument, the article begins with R.W. Connell's concept of "hegemonic masculinity" as one example of empirical investigation that proceeds by way of specialised metaphors-strategies, positions, goals-that make masculinity appear self-evident as an innate communication between men. In scrutinising the efficacy of such metaphors, the article questions the paradigm of homosociality as a methodological a priori in social scientific research. Finally, the article asks how masculinity studies might engage a more critical relationship to observation and description, a question that remains urgent for developing the ethical vision of gender studies more broadly.
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