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Panel 31. New masculinities and the remaking of the proper home


  • Teresa Caldeira, University of California, Berkeley and NEV-USP –Center for the Study of Violence, University of São Paulo


Deep transformations have been reshuffling entrenched formations of class inequalities, gender hierarchies, and racial discrimination in peripheries of the global south, and affecting the dynamics of urban life.

Family and household arrangements are at the core of these transformations and include: smaller families; more women-headed households; growing number of solo mothers (women who raise children by themselves); increasing same-sex households; and changes in popular housing markets with increasing rentals and decreasing autoconstruction. These transformations affect imaginaries of the proper home and practices of inhabiting urban peripheries. Feminist scholars have led in exploring these issues, often highlighting women’s agency. In this panel, we want to explore the articulation of new masculinities. We suggest four scenarios as starting points for our inquiries.

  1. The twentieth century common idea of a man’s role as the provider for a family/household seems to be undergoing radical reshuffling. While women have expanded their participation in labor markets, transformations in the structure of labor markets have affected the offer of stable and relatively well-paid blue-collar jobs for men, undermining the idea of a “proper job” with a fixed salary. What are the new masculinities forged to replace the once dominant idea of the male worker as provider?
  2. As women increasingly head households, join the labor market, and decide to raise children solo, conceptions of fatherhood are affected. Solo motherhood is accompanied by absent fatherhood. What are the new configurations of fatherhood in contexts in which the autonomy of women is accentuated and in which fathers and children may not share the same home?
  3. Conservatism is growing widely and gender roles and the family are at the core of any conservative agenda. In many places, this agenda is advanced by religious groups, such as neo-Pentecostals, who enforce views of masculinity that entrench the hierarchies that women’s new practices disrupt. Simultaneously, aggressive and violent forms of masculinity are legitimized, for example in the contexts of organized crime, policing, and vigilantism. How are conservative/aggressive masculinities transforming?
  4. Race is a crucial factor in the above-mentioned transformations. In Brazil, for example, around 60% of solo mothers are black. Black men are the majority of homicide victims, and of those incarcerated, meaning distance from children is not a matter of choice. Fathers’ forced and violent absence affects the dynamics of families, household composition, and introduces specific anxieties and fears. What does it mean to be a black father?

For a while, the proper home in the peripheries of many cities of the global south was an autoconstructed house inhabited by a nuclear family. How is the proper home characterized in scenarios of reconfigured masculinities – and femininities?

We especially welcome studies that address the questions above, anywhere in the world, but we are open to a large spectrum of analyses that consider the broader theme of configurations of new masculinities.

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