Boys, reading and constructions of masculinities

Author: Sarah McDonald

McDonald, Sarah, 2018 Boys, reading and constructions of masculinities, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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Over the past two decades, boys have been continually positioned as marginalised participants in the schooling system, where categorical notions of boys as failing and girls as achieving persist. These ideas have played out strongly in western societies in the areas of literacy and reading, with a convergence of boys and literacy ‘crises’. The result of this has been a demand for more ‘boy-friendly’ literacy practices. While some boys underachieve in reading ability when compared to some girls, essentialist notions of gender fail to take into account the way that variations in capital and identity means achievement is not simply based on sex. Using Connell’s (1995) theory of masculinities and Lesko’s (2001, 2005) research on the construction of adolescence, I analyse three websites created to promote reading for middle-school boys to examine whether they contribute to and perpetuate constructions of hegemonic masculinities. The theoretical grounding for this study also draws on the key theories of Bourdieu (1984) and Bakhtin (1981) to underpin explorations of the construction of identity. I employ Critical Discourse Analysis as outlined by Gee (1999, 2014, 2015) and Fairclough (2015) to examine how websites created to promote reading in middle-years boys construct boys’ masculinity.

Keywords: gender, gender construction, masculinities, literacy, reading, adolescence, middle-school, identity construction

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2018
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Kay Whitehead