Men, Identity and Power. A Case Study of the Re-Invention of 'Tradition': Implications for Involving Men in Training and Education about Gender

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Sideris, Tina


Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, p.88-93 (2004)



The personal identity conflicts of a young man living in rural South Africa, and their resolution by means of 'tradition', form the focus of this briefing. The case study used illustrates how hegemonic beliefs and values about kinship and identity urge men and women to conform to dominant gender norms. Through a discussion of this case, the briefing suggests that efforts to impact on men's beliefs about gender, which appeal to education or training and rely on rational intellectual processes, are likely to have limited effect. The case presented illustrates how deeply hegemonic meanings and values are felt, and how, articulated through tradition, they reach into people's lives directing their actions and behaviours. The case study also shows that new ways of relating are produced in practice. It suggests that the success of the pressure to yield to the hegemonic will depend on the strength of social support for alternative practices and on changing patterns of power in actual relationships.

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