An exploration of male identity construction amongst primary school boys

Benjamin, Gaynor (2014-12)

Thesis (MEdPsych)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The social construction of masculinity is a complex process, one which cannot be divorced from the immediate environment and culture of boys. The aim of this study was to understand the construction of male identity in young primary school boys, who grew up in a context where few positive male role models might be, and where society might play a bigger role in shaping their identities. I focused on boys between the ages of ten and thirteen. The participants were from a poor socio-economic coloured community in the Western Cape and were purposively selected. A qualitative research methodology was used and data was selected by means of semi-structured interviews, focus-group interviews, collages and photographs. The findings showed that the type of masculinity these boys aspire to is admirable. However, they are caught within a context where there is a lack of physical space, an absence of facilities, a high unemployment rate and are surrounded by community disorganisation. The boys are confronted with many male examples in their community who are not providing for their families, and they see substances such as alcohol and drugs being abused daily by adult members of their community. Despite a constant presence of a mother, there is a lack of meaningful relationships with their fathers. They cannot easily identify positive role models within their community and do not have the ability to search for such traits in others. The themes arising from the data presented a contrast between the experiences of the participants and the kind of men they seek to be. There are very few men in their community who could help them to achieve their ideals and who could provide them with guidance or support. In the absence of suitable male role models to emulate, these boys are likely to comply with a model of masculinity that demonstrates dominance and power through violence and abuse.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die sosiale konstruksie van manlikheid is 'n komplekse proses, een wat nie van die onmiddellike omgewing en kultuur van die seuns geskei kan word nie. Die doel van hierdie studie was om die konstruksie van manlike identiteit in jong laerskoolseuns, wat grootgeword het in 'n konteks waar min positiewe manlike rolmodelle kan wees, en waar die gemeenskap 'n groter rol kan speel in die vorming van hul identiteit, te verstaan. Ek fokus op seuns tussen die ouderdomme van tien en dertien jaar oud. Die deelnemers was van 'n lae - sosio-ekonomiese bruin gemeenskap in die Wes-Kaap en is doelbewus gekies. ‘n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodologie is gebruik en data is deur middel van semi- gestruktureerde onderhoude, fokusgroep-onderhoude, collages en fotos ingesamel. Die bevindinge het getoon dat die tipe manlikheid wat hierdie seuns nastreef, prysenswaardig is. Hulle is egter vasgevang in 'n konteks gekenmerk deur 'n gebrek aan fisiese ruimte, 'n afwesigheid van fasiliteite, 'n hoë werkloosheidsyfer en gemeenskaplike wanorde. Die seuns word gekonfronteer met baie voorbeelde van mans in hul gemeenskap wat nie voorsiening maak vir hul families nie, en hulle world op 'n daaglikse basis bloogestel aan volwassenes wat alkohol en dwelms misbruik. Hoewel daar 'n konstante teenwoordigheid van 'n ma is, is daar is 'n gebrek aan 'n sinvolle verhouding met hul vaders. Hulle kan nie maklik positiewe rolmodelle identifiseer binne hul gemeenskap nie, en het nie die vermoë om te soek vir soortgelyke eienskappe in ander nie. Die temas wat voortgespruit het uit die data was in kontras met die ervarings van die deelnemers en die tipe man waarna hulle streef om te wees. Daar is geen mans in hul gemeenskap wat hulle kan help om hul ideale te bereik en wat hulle kan voorsien met leiding of ondersteuning nie. In die afwesigheid van geskikte manlike rolmodelle om na te boots, kan hierdie seuns geneig wees om 'n model van manlikheid wat oorheersing en mag deur geweld en mishandeling na te streef.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95944
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