Of mice, rats, and men: Exploring the role of rodents in constructing masculinity within a group of young African American males

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Abstract

In this article I demonstrate the process through which mice-generally characterized as meek and frightened creatures-are used symbolically by the participants in a study I conducted among boys on a high school basketball team to define masculinities that are consistent with what Connell (1995) calls hegemonic masculinity. I use ethnographic data, gathered as an assistant coach of the team, to argue that in managing their interaction with rodents, the young men and coaches, through their talk, transform their orientation to these creatures by constructing the rodents in a manner that encourages aggressive responses. Although the participants' use of mice is part of an idioculture (Fine 1987) that may be distinctive to the team, the meanings they create are consistent with a broader set of meanings and evaluations of men and masculinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages19
JournalQualitative Sociology
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • African American men
  • Ethnography
  • Masculinity
  • Rodents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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