The space between : discursive constructions of masculinity in contemporary South African men's lifestyle magazines

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis considers the constructions of discourses of masculinities by contemporary South African men's lifestyle magazines, and examines the extent to which they are simply mainstream promulgators of 'old school' patriarchy and soft porn, or the ways in which they offer new and complex models of modem masculinity. The thesis further examines whether local men's lifestyle magazines perhaps represent a unique synthesis within masculine discourses? This study explores how a new understanding of the discourses of masculinity can help to explain the commonly held assumption that masculinity is in 'crisis'. The post-structuralist study explores the discourses through textual analysis, employing a social semiotic and Critical Discourse Analysis multimodal approach which links the social with the representational. The study concentrates its analysis on the most prevalent discourses in the text. The research takes the form of the textual analysis of four articles taken from prominent South African men's lifestyle magazines. In response to suggestions that no generalised 'crisis' in masculinity exists because patriarchy is still very much intact, this thesis suggests that appreciating identity as self-reflexive provides a different understanding of the anxiety surrounding contemporary masculinity. Gender as a self-reflexive project allows the self to be constructed from a multitude of resources resulting in the apprehension of choice. This study attempts to show how the discursive space created in the discourses of masculinity in men's magazines provides the reader with an intimate, yet emotionally elusive place where the reader can navigate these ambiguities of contemporary masculinity.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 122-136).