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Crafting Elastic Masculinity: Formations of Shenti, Intimacy and Kinship among Young Men in China

Cao, Siyang (2018) Crafting Elastic Masculinity: Formations of Shenti, Intimacy and Kinship among Young Men in China. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Under the ever-deepening transformations in contemporary China, traditional gender relations have been reshaped, but elements of patriarchy informed by the legacy of Confucianism still linger. These intricately interwoven forces have exerted a great impact on the gendered lives of the young generation. This research aims to examine young men’s views of Chinese manhood and how they construct and negotiate masculinities in their everyday lives. I conducted 30 semi-structured in-depth interviews with Chinese men aged between 22 and 32, who are mostly ordinary men in the middle social stratum in Shanghai and Shenyang. I regard Chinese men as actively negotiating their identities within particular stages of their life course. Overall, this thesis is informed by perspectives of relational selfhood and Confucian notions of the relational, reflexive, and embodied self that is an ongoing process of becoming. I bring indigenous concepts and cultural repertoires into critical dialogue with global and leading sociological theories of individualisation and reflexivity. Based on my analyses, I introduce and develop the concept of ‘elastic masculinity’. Specifically, I argue that the masculinity of ordinary young men is flexible, adaptable and accommodating. However, the term elastic masculinity also illustrates that it is limited by the availability of resources, structural constraints, cultural traditions and diverse personal relationships. Thus, elastic masculinity is an appropriate metaphor and an important concept to understand Chinese young men’s active engagement with China’s global modernity, increasing individualisation, shifting gender values and local realities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
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Keywords: Masculinity; Gender; Contemporary China; Confucianism
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Women's Studies (York)
Depositing User: Ms. Siyang Cao
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 09:08
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 09:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20182

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