Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh, United Kingdom


Chapter 4.- Masculinities and Health: Whose Identities, Whose Constructions?

Authors: Chris McVittie (Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh, United Kingdom), Julie Hepworth (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia) and Karen Goodall (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom)

Over recent decades, numerous studies of masculine identities have offered insights into issues relating to men’s health. Much work has focused on one particular form of masculine identity that is argued to encourage risk-taking behaviours and to discourage or prevent men from seeking help on health matters in circumstances where consulting health professionals when such a course would be appropriate. Instead this form of masculine identity, termed ‘hegemonic masculinity’ (Connell, 1995; Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005), is said to promote invulnerability and stoicism in the face of adversity and hence a reluctance to seek help from others. Furthermore, it is suggested that hegemonic masculinity has consequences not just for men themselves but also for others, including partners and health professionals, who are interested in promoting the health of individual men and that it positions them in relation to these matters. Although this focus has been useful in some respects, especially in highlighting how issues of health are bound up with issues of identity, the focus on hegemonic masculinity has in many instances led to a broad and oversimplified picture of how men (and others) negotiate health and ill-health. This chapter examines what a finer-grained approach to studying masculinities that draws on conversation analysis (Sacks, 1992) and ethnomethodology (Garfinkel, 1967) can bring to understanding issues related to men’s health and ill-health, specifically how men and others negotiate these issues in their everyday lives.


Connell, R. (1995). Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Connell, R. & Messerschmidt, J.W. (2005). Hegemonic masculinity: rethinking the concept. Gender and Society, 19, 829-859.
Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Sacks, H. (1992). Lectures on Conversation, Volume I, II. Oxford: Blackwell.