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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/25952
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- Masculinities, friendship and support in gay and straight men's close relationships with other men
- Robertson, Richard C.
- In this qualitative study, gay and straight men's experiences in male friendships were examined in order to explore differences and similarities between the participants' construction of masculinities. A social constructionist approach to understanding human experience was utilised, through an examination of in-depth interviews with 21 men (10 straight, 11 gay). The data was interpreted following a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, utilising the lens of Gestalt therapy theory, resulting in a series of essence statements, which expressed the underlying structures of the participants' experiences of masculinity. These findings revealed constructions of masculinities which were explored in relation to the participants' close male friendships and support seeking processes. A major finding was the importance of shame as a regulating variable in the gay and straight participants' construction of their masculinity. Shame or avoidance of shame appeared to be linked to the influence of a dominant heterosexual masculine ideology. It was revealed that whilst dominant masculine ideologies were experienced as powerful 'background' beliefs, the participants were able to construct contemporaneous masculinities that were contextual and field sensitive. Thus the concept of masculinities appears inherently fluid, and changeable. Furthermore, the results indicated different definitions of friendship which appeared to be related to different constructions of masculinity. The gay participants' friendships were described in interpersonal terms compared with the straight participants' friendships which appeared more focussed on external activities. The experience of shame, or fear of the potential for shame emerged as important variables that influenced intimacy, closeness and distance in gay and straight participants' friendships and their ability to seek and receive emotional social support. The finding that men appear to seek help from male friends in ways that are consistent with their constructions of masculinity has important implications for fostering supportive interactions between men. Furthermore, an understanding of men's experiences regarding what constitutes a supportive interaction and defines intimacy appears important as these views will most likely guide their decision making processes about from whom and how they might seek support. Finally, the possibilities for constructing new masculinities are explored as men's friendships and support behaviour are both influenced by, and in turn influence, the construction of masculinities.
- Publication type
- Thesis (PhD)
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Life and Social Sciences
- Publication year
- Gestalt psychology; Male friendship; Male homosexuality; Masculinity; Men; Psychology
- Australasian Digital Theses collection
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2005 Richard C. Robertson.
- Thesis Supervisor
- [Roger Cook]
- Thesis Note
- [Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Swinburne University of Technology, 2005.]
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