Social Science Research on Indian Masculinities: Retrospect and Prospect

The study of men and masculinities (SMM) is gaining recognition as an interdisciplinary field of academic inquiry (Kimmel, Hearn, & Connell, 2005). SMM originated in and remains largely sympathetic to feminist concerns. It is a constructive response to the diverse changes in men’s lives induced by the ongoing project of women’s liberation, as also by significant shifts in the economy (e.g., the transition from fordism to post-fordism) and society (e.g., changes in the structure of the family). The consequent disruption of the gender roles (e.g., ‘breadwinner’ and ‘protector’) traditionally assigned to men caused a crisis of hegemonic, patriarchal masculinity. The bewilderment of men buffeted by these changes found expression in various modes: as a demand for rights, a search for spiritual solace, or an unwavering commitment to the feminist cause. SMM seeks to probe the predicament of these men (and to provide some of the means needed for its resolution) by viewing it as part of the continual construction and reconstruction of masculinities across time and space. Thus, it is not a hostile reaction to Women’s Studies. Being closely interrelated facets of Gender Studies, the two forms of inquiry can and should develop in a dialogical fashion. (...) The research project seeks to critically survey the scholarly investigation of indigenous masculinities against the background outlined above so as to formulate an agenda for future research, teaching and positive interventions in the area. The attempt is to highlight the ways in which the study of masculinities sheds new light on a wide spectrum of social phenomena ranging from colonialism and communalism to sexuality. The project report encompasses the relevant literature generated by the social sciences and allied academic fields, as also the concerns articulated by various activist groups focusing on the gender dynamics of men and masculinities. Please see below for the report, in Word.