Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 13 Issue 1 (January/February 2003), Pages 1-83

Rhetorical representations of masculinities in South Africa: moving towards a material‐discursive understanding of men (pages 46-69)


A material‐discursive perspective holds advantage in understanding male realities. It seeks to integrate dominant approaches that appear anaemic in their failure to capture the interplay between the material and discursive realms of human existence. Three dominant metaphorical themes in the rhetorical representation of South African masculinities are described in an attempt to illustrate the complexity of embodied masculine experience. In this sense the discussion seeks to reveal the dynamic nature of masculine debate and lived experience across differing contexts. It serves to underline the importance of adopting a material‐discursive perspective in understanding men, which recognizes that they do not exist as a homogeneous social group, and as such experience their masculinities in a variable and changing fashion. The theoretical amalgamation of social representations and rhetoric is argued to provide a useful analytical tool in an endeavour of this nature. It is suggested that the rhetorical approach problematizes an overly consensual view of social reality that social representations theory typically promotes. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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