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Title: Ageing and the continuity of masculine identity in a Scottish men's shed : an ethnographic enquiry
Author: Watt, Jeremy Charles
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 3782
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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Although the social constructionist turn in masculinities studies has broadened and deepened sociological understandings of masculine identities in Western societies, the literature has predominantly focused on younger and middle-aged men. The recent expansion of the Men's Shed 'movement' offers significant opportunities to investigate the intersection of ageing and masculinity, and provide novel insights into what is a rapidly expanding demographic group. Originating in Australia, Men's Sheds are male-exclusive spaces in which mainly older men gather to pursue traditionally masculine practices such as woodworking and engineering. This report presents the findings of an 18-month ethnographic study of the Carstonwood Men's Shed, one of the first examples of the concept in Scotland. Established to address a perceived lack of social opportunities for older men in the town of Carstonwood, the Men's Shed attracted a dedicated core group of participants for whom the organisation played an important role in their lives. Drawing on the work of Robert Atchley and Tony Coles, participants were observed to enact an 'aged masculinity' encompassing aspects of conservation alongside the management of unavoidable change. The attitudinal and behavioural characteristics of this aged masculinity, apparent in participants' views on work, wealth, gender differentiation, health, social change, and technological objects, shaped their understanding of the purpose and functioning of the Men's Shed. In particular, the similarities participants shared stimulated the development of bonding social capital, allowing the organisation to mimic, in a necessarily limited and artificial manner, a communal form felt to have been lost to social change. Accordingly, the organisation exhibited a social environment characterised by norms of equality and reciprocity, with an emphasis on assisting, supporting, educating, and learning from fellow participants in matters both personal and technical. While engendering strong intra-group loyalties, this stance also prompted the rejection of individually oriented conduct as threatening to organisational success.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Aging ; Men ; Social networks