DFG Project “Caring boys? Alternative research perspectives on the social crisis of reproduction” Show content

Duration: 01.02.2019 - 31.01.2022
Director: Prof. Dr. Sylka Scholz
Project co-workers: Nadine Nebyie Baser, Kevin Leja, Iris Schwarzenbacher

The crisis of social reproduction identified by sociologists forms the starting point of this project. In public discourses this crisis is addressed primarily as a problem that affects women, such as the dilemmas faced by working women when trying to reconcile work and family life or again the issue of childlessness among female academics. In the academic context too the topics of care and care work are associated primarily with the female gender, whereas the role of the male gender in the crisis of reproduction generally remains underexamined.

The project “Caring boys?” therefore addresses issues of masculinity and care (of others as of oneself). It explores the ideas of male youngsters around care for self and others, as it is during the adolescent phase that responsibility for others, i.e. a generative perspective, is substantially developed and the opportunities for changes in gender relations are given. Sociological studies in masculinity describe boys above all as being prepared to take risks and as being drawn toward competitiveness. They appear to show no care for themselves or others. It is possible, nonetheless, to formulate the hypothesis that contemporary images of masculinity lead to a situation in which other, contrasting modes and practices of masculinity are not represented or debated, i.e. that boy and men do not mention care of self and others to other people, even if it is an important factor in their own lives.

The research project focuses on the perspective of boys and uses qualitative methods to examine ways of speaking about experiences of care of self and others. In doing so it draws on knowledge from youth work by incorporating relevant pedagogical ideas into the methodological setting. The project pursues two goals: first, that of expanding the state of academic knowledge about the care enacted by boys and, second, that of developing theoretical concepts of care, generativity and masculinity in relation to youth as a life phase. This is connected to the question of how care can be integrated into constructions of masculinity over the long term. In this way the project contributes toward society’s efforts to deal with the crisis in social reproduction.

Project-related publications

Ruby, Sophie/ Scholz, Sylk [pdf, 207 kb] dea (2018): Care, Care Work and the Struggle for a Careful World from the Perspective of the Sociology of Masculinities.  [pdf, 207 kb] deIn: Aulenbacher, Brigitte/ Gutiérrez-Rodríguez/ Liebig, Brigitte (Hrsg.): Care and Care Work. Special Issue of Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie ÖZS, Jg. 43, H. 1, S.73-83 [pdf, 207 kb] de [PDF, 207 KB] [pdf, 207 kb] de

Male youths’ choices of study course and profession in the domain of caring occupations. Project within the BMFSFJ funded collaborative project “Boys and Education”: Show content

Duration: 01.11.2018 - 30.09.2021
Direction: Prof. Dr. Sylka Scholz
Project co-worker: Dr. Kevin Stützel

The project looks at how boys’ and young men’s choices of study course and profession develop biographically. The data base consists of twenty guided interviews with young men who are already on a training or study course in Social Work, Health and Nursing Care, Child Development and Education. The project involves reconstructing how the boys’ choices came about and how their decision relates to any previous experience with care activities in their social environment. In addition, the way the boys engage with the gender-related demands of their training or study course in a caring profession is analysed. The young men surveyed are engaged in training or study at institutions in four regions of Germany that are either urban or rural and are in either the eastern or western states of Germany. With regard to the training and study courses themselves, caring professions are chosen which display a comparatively high or comparatively low proportion of male practitioners.

Prof. Dr. Sylka Scholz, Qualitative Methods and Microsociology: Caring Masculinities. On the relation between care and masculinities

Men have recently become more involved (again) in the field of care. They crop up in the role of the active father, the care giver in the care of family members in the home, in the care of elderly or sick people, or again as pre-school teachers. It is apparent that care and caring are currently being re-negotiated. In modern capitalist societies care is attributed to the character of the female gender. This relation is breaking apart for a variety of reasons. For several years now I have been looking into the connections between men, masculinities and care. I am interested in whether – and in what ways – experiences of being a care giver are changing individual constructions of masculinity. And further: can experiences of caring for others generate a potential for subjective transformation? Do these experiences relate only to the sphere of personal life? Does an attitude of caring develop that might also be politicized, for example in terms of active engagement for a democratic post-growth society? On this basis I organized, together with Andreas Heilmann, a ‘hearing’ on the subject of “Masculinities in capitalist growth societies” (January 2018) within the Centre for Advanced Studies on Post-Growth Societies, as well as publishing several articles on the subject. The topic is being pursued in both of the Section’s current research projects, namely, the DFG project “Caring boys? Alternative research perspectives on the social crisis of reproduction” and “Male youths’ choices of study course and profession in the domain of caring occupations”.

Heilmann, Andreas/Scholz, Sylka (2017): „Caring Masculinities – gesellschaftliche Transformationspotentiale fürsorglicher Männlichkeiten?“ in: Feministische Studien, Schwerpunkt Postwachstum, 31. Jg. H. 2, 349-357 and Repliken, ibid., 369-373)

Scholz, Sylka/Heilmann, Andreas (eds.) (2019): „Caring Masculinities. Männlichkeiten in der Transformation kapitalistischer Wachstumsgesellschaften“, München: Ökom

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