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Against Role Models:Tracing the Histories of Manliness in Youth Work, The Cultural Capital of Respectable Masculinity

Batsleer, JR (2014) Against Role Models:Tracing the Histories of Manliness in Youth Work, The Cultural Capital of Respectable Masculinity. Youth and Policy: the journal of critical analysis, 113. ISSN 0262-9798

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Abstract

The article documents the powerful account that there is ‘a lack of male role models’ for boys, and gives examples of current youth work based responses to this. It seeks to situate this view historically as a strong rhetorical trope of youth work which divides the ‘rough’ from the ‘respectable’ through an emphasis on competitive sport, discipline and adventure. It discusses the history of boys’ clubs in the UK and their significance in the development of approaches to masculinity. It considers the role of Evangelicalism and Muscular Christianity in youth work both historically and in the present; and explores how feminism and homophobia are negotiated in the reaffirmation of masculinity. The article investigates questions of secular accounts of fitness and the place of love in practice. It ends by naming some tensions in the re-emerging constructions of ‘respectable’ masculinity, with a view to opening up space for dialogue and conversation about the complex and contradictory orientations of both secular and Christian youth work in practice.

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