Publication Details

Donaldson, M, What Is Hegemonic Masculinity?, Theory and Society, Special Issue: Masculinities, October 1993, 22(5), 643-657. Copyright 1993 Springer. The original publication is available here at


Hegemonic masculinity is a powerful idea that has been usefully employed for about twenty five years (by 2007) in a wide variety of contexts and has now been subject to much critical review. Its successful application to a wide range of different cultures suggests that there may well be no known human societies in which some form of masculinity has not emerged as dominant, more socially central, more associated with power, in which a pattern of practices embodying the "currently most honoured way" of being male legitimates the superordination of men over women. Hegemonic masculinity is normative in a social formation. Not all men attempt to live it, and some oppose it by developing alternative (and subordinate) masculinities, but all men position themselves, in relation to it in situations where their choices may be quite restricted.



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