The Emos: the re-traditionalisation of white, working-class masculinities through the 'alternative scene'

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Ward, Michael Rhys Morgan ; Cardiff University (2012)
  • Publisher: Cardiff University
  • Subject: H1

During the last few decades the South Wales valleys (U.K) have undergone a considerable economic transformation. Alongside industrial change, social, cultural and political traditions have altered youth transitions from school to work. Young working-class men in particular have struggled to adapt to these changes. This paper is drawn from a wider ESRC-funded ethnographic study that explored the diversity of white, working-class masculinities in a socially and economically disadvantaged community. Drawing on the work of Erving Goffman, I take the perspective that masculinity is a performance of multiple acts displayed through different regions of self. Concentrating on the „front‟ display of masculinity of one group of young men, this paper looks at the experiences of those who embrace a trans-global form of youth culture known as the „alternative scene‟ and were labelled by others at The Emos. These young men were often alienated, bullied and victimised for their apparent nonnormative performances of masculinity. However, through a closer analysis of the historical dynamics of place, class and gender, I suggest that these non-normative front performances of masculinity continue to evidence many traditional discourses that contradict their own „alternative‟ displays. In doing so it becomes clear that these performances were in fact a retraditionalization of older discourses of classed and gender codes.
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