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The Men and the Boys, Twenty Years On

Revisiting Raewyn Connell's Pivotal Text

Victoria Cann, Sebastián Madrid, Kopano Ratele, Anna Tarrant, Michael R.M. Ward, and Raewyn Connell

It is twenty years since the publication of Raewyn Connell's highly influential text The Men and the Boys. This book, building on feminist and pro-feminist perspectives of gender formation, was written over a ten-year period from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. It was published five years after the release of the groundbreaking text Masculinities (1995) and tackled multiple issues concerning boys and men. While providing an important platform and summary of where the research from the social science and humanities on men and masculinities stood in the year 2000, the book also contained a theoretical framework for understanding men and masculinities as part of gender relations. Importantly, the future direction of the field was outlined, and suggestions were made as to likely future agendas. These subjects included investigating the implications of globalization and its different characteristics on gender formation, the role of men's bodies, the impact of the media and culture in men's lives, sexuality, education, health, politics, change, violence, and peace. In recent years, questions about the lives and experiences of men and boys continue to raise remarkable media interest, public concern, and controversy on a global scale. Global changes in practices of knowledge have ensured that across the humanities and social sciences, research in the field of masculinities (of all ages) has continued to flourish and expand.

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Anna Tarrant, Gareth Terry, Michael R.M. Ward, Sandy Ruxton, Martin Robb, and Brigid Featherstone

This article considers the so-called war on boys through a critical examination of the way boys and young men have been represented in what might be termed the male role model discourse in policy and media debates in the UK. Critical engagement with academic literatures that explore the male role model response to what has become known as the problem of boys, predominantly in education and in welfare settings, reveals that contemporary policy solutions continue to be premised on outdated theoretical foundations that reflect simplistic understandings of gender and gender relations. In this article we advocate policy solutions that acknowledge the complexity and diversity of boys’ and young men’s experiences and that do not simplistically reduce their problems to the notion of a crisis in masculinity.