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Re-imagining Work and Masculinity in a Postindustrial Society

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Åsa Andersson
Anita Beckman
Publicerad i 1st CIEG International Congres of "Gender Studies in Debate: Pathways, Challenges and Interdisciplinary Perspectives". Interdisciplinary Centre for Studies (CIEG) ISCSP Lisbon, Portugal 25-27 May 2015
Publiceringsår 2016
Publicerad vid Institutionen för kulturvetenskaper
Språk en
Ämnesord masculinity, unemployment, post-industrialism, identity
Ämneskategorier Annan humaniora, Kulturstudier

Sammanfattning

This paper discusses the narratives of young working-class men, living in a small town in Sweden that is located outside the regions with economic growth. As in many other European countries, the rate of unemployment among Swedish youth is dis-proportionally high. Based upon material consisting of in-depth interviews with unemployed young men, the paper will analyze the changed meaning of masculinity in relation to work in a postindustrial society. Since working-class masculinity has traditionally been closely connected to wage labor and to the ability to provide for oneself as well as being the breadwinner of the family, the lack of resources that unemployment implies, means that masculinity and its relational implications must be re-imagined. The young men’s narratives can thereby be seen to reflect social and cultural changes that have taken place on a structural level related to the labor market, the educational system, as well as the changed conditions for the formation of social identities. The inter-generational working-class culture on the one hand and neoliberal ideas permeating activities for the unemployed, such as training- and coaching-programs, on the other – serve as reference points for the young men’s experience of subordination. In many ways the situation described was marked by deficiency and vulnerability, an effect of the social division of today, where the long-term unemployed are depicted as ‘abject others’ and even more so if placed in subordinated categories such as (non)working-class males, living in the back country. But what also can be traced in the young men’s own narratives are some critical reflections and possible alternative ways of forming social identities and masculinities. This is furthermore related to different kinds of work ethics than the familiar one they have been socialized into when growing up and the other one that they have met as job-seekers.

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