Year

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Humanities and Social Inquiry

Abstract

Young men’s engagement in risky drinking and public violence is now recognised as a significant public health issue for communities and societies throughout the world. These two practices often lead to a range of serious negative outcomes not only for the participants themselves, but also other individuals and wider society. Drawing on a series of focus groups and in-depth interviews conducted with young Australian men, this research examines the ways in which young men’s engagement in risky drinking and public violence can be understood as a display of hegemonic masculinity. The concept of hegemonic masculinity suggests that there exists a legitimate form of masculinity within a given social and historical context that is positioned as dominant over all women, and all other forms of lesser masculinity. The aim of this research is to explore young men’s understandings of risky drinking and public violence and how these practices may be drawn on to construct and perform legitimate and empowered masculine identities. Through their engagement in risky drinking and public violence, young men are able to enact culturally legitimate masculinities and distance themselves from subordinate and marginalised masculinities. The engagement of young men in these practices also sustains and reproduces gendered power inequalities that see men positioned as dominant over women, and some men positioned as dominant over others. This critical examination of the relationship between risky drinking, public violence, and hegemonic masculinity illuminates the importance of acknowledging the gendered nature of risk and risky practice, and the ways in which young men’s engagement in risky practice is informed by dominant ideologies of masculinity.

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