Little boys: tomorrow's macho lads

Keddie, Amanda (2003) Little boys: tomorrow's macho lads. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 24 (3). pp. 289-306. ISSN 1469-3739


This paper presents elements of an ethnographic case study of a group of five male friends between the ages of six and eight years. The study sought to examine the ways in which the group's social dynamics interacted to define, regulate and maintain collective understandings of masculinity.

Dominant peer culture was found to be particularly potent in championing a hegemonic masculinity embodying and
cultivating physical domination, aggression and violence underpinned by constructions of females and femininity as the negative 'other'. These restrictive understandings were interpreted as normalised through the philosophies and practices of the boys' teachers and their principal. Here the naturalist assumptions underpinning dominant early childhood pedagogy constituted the boys as 'gender innocent' and were implicated in understandings of developmentally appropriate practice. Through illuminating clear parallels to associated research, this paper presents further warrant for abandoning these naturalist assumptions which continue to mitigate against gender equity in early childhood (MacNaughton, Rethinking Gender in Early Childhood Education, St Leonards, Allen & Unwin, 2000). In this regard, the paper signifies the importance of maintaining a focus on addressing issues of collective masculinity in early childhood.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2009 23:44
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2011 02:15
Uncontrolled Keywords: masculinity, gender roles, gender construction, early childhood, peer relationships
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130105 Primary Education (excl. Maori)
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130308 Gender, Sexuality and Education
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390304 Primary education
39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390406 Gender, sexuality and education
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
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