Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Dialogues through Autophotography: Young Masculinity and HIV Identity in KwaZulu-Natal

Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Dialogues through Autophotography: Young Masculinity and HIV Identity in KwaZulu-Natal

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

There has been burgeoning of South African research in men and masculinities over the past twenty years where there has been an emphasis on the concept of hegemonic masculinity particularly (Morrell, Jewkes, & Lindegger, 2012; Morrell, Jewkes, Lindegger, & Hamlall, 2013). Much local research has been compatible with a model of multiple hegemonic masculinities applied in areas of health, education, social issues and psychology (Morrell et al., 2012). Over the past ten years, psychologists in South Africa have produced a variety of studies specifically focused on adolescent boys or young men (Morrell et al., 2012). This research has had varying focuses including young masculinity and disability (Joseph & Lindegger, 2007), violent behaviour and peaceful alternatives (Hamlall, 2013), peer group counsellors (Davies & Eagle, 2007), group constructions and homophobia (Blackbeard & Lindegger, 2007), ideal masculinity (Lindegger & Maxwell, 2007) and the acceptance or rejection of peer-validated masculinities (Langa, 2010). The relevance of such research included gender-responsive education, health risk and prevention, health services provision and programmes to address gender violence and interpersonal violence (Gibbs & Jobson, 2011; Hamlall, 2013; Morrell et al., 2012).

The current research was a participatory study with seven adolescent boys (N=7, age range 13 to 16 years) using an interpretive approach. The research setting was a clinic-based HIV support group in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. The data collection took place over six months and involved multiple methods of data collection. These were conventional qualitative methods (semi-structured interview, focus group) and visual methods (autophotography and photoelicitation interview, biographical drawing, reflective interviews).

Gender research in the Southern African region has highlighted the association between gender inequitable masculinities and a range of social problems including normative sexual entitlement and rape perpetration, poverty and disadvantage, unemployment, gendered violence and interpersonal violence (Jewkes, Sikweyiya, Morrell, & Dunkle, 2011). Researchers have identified links between normative masculinity and health risk behaviours such as sexual health risks, physical risk-taking and poor health compliance, particularly with regard to young men and male adolescents (Harrison, O'Sullivan, Hoffman, Dolezal, & Morrell, 2006; Lindegger & Quayle, 2009). Research and practice has also revealed multiple constructions of young masculinity, varying from traditional patterns to alternate and progressive masculinities (Langa, 2010; Lindegger & Maxwell, 2007). Researchers have observed that equating young masculinity with problematic masculinity neglects transforming opportunities for sustaining gender-equitable masculinities (Lindegger & Quayle, 2009). Some research has focused on social structural and instrumental aspects of masculinity which can be to the neglect of masculine subjectivities, a key to the transformation of masculinities (Davies & Eagle, 2007; Lindegger & Maxwell, 2007, Mfecane, 2008).

In the current study, masculine identity was defined as identity positioning in relation to hegemonic masculinity, considered to be a set of ideals or imperatives for masculine performance (Korobov & Bamberg, 2007). Dialogical Self Theory (DST) (Hermans and Hermans-Konopka, 2010) was applied as a conceptual framework for understanding masculine identity as voiced selfpositioning in contexts of time, space and movement (Hermans & Hermans-Konopka, 2010). Hegemonic masculinities (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005) were conceptualised as dominant or centrally positioned gendered identities in the self-society dialectic (Hermans & HermansKonopka, 2010). Masculine identities were understood dialogically as self-positions situated in real and imagined time, space and movement contexts (Hermans & Hermans-Konopka, 2010). …

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