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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation contains three standalone articles, reporting the initial findings from an evaluatory ethnography of a profeminist Batterer Intervention Program (BIP). Primary data consists of observations of 37 sessions of the BIP and formal interviews with 17 current and former participants in the program. Theoretical framework draws from gender and symbolic interactionist principles, including hegemonic masculinity, hybrid masculinities, manhood acts, accounts and disclaimers, and the working consensus.
BIPs constitute a major institutionalized response to men’s gendered violence, with thousands in operation across the US, primarily treating court ordered men as an alternative to incarceration. Workers who administer BIP programs – many highly skilled social workers and psychologists – believe their programs have positive effects. Quantitative evaluations of BIPs consistently show limited or no improvement in men’s behaviors after treatment but are methodologically limited. Quantitative work has indicated that adherence to hegemonic masculinity lies at the center of program success rates, but all recent studies have relied on interviews or evaluation of course documents. As such they lack the capability to expose interactional mechanisms that determine shifts in masculinities and other factors that moderate program effectiveness.
Findings identify the ideal manhood constructed in the BIP as Progressive Hybrid Masculinity (PHM). Based in liberal assertions of social justice, PHM discursively distances men who adopt it from hegemonic masculinity by subordinating “toxic masculinity,” reframes emotional expressiveness and empathy as masculine through a discourse of power, and covertly reasserts men’s power through reification of masculine roles. The research frames defining the situation as an inherent component of manhood acts, and shows that rules in the BIP limit this interactional masculinity, prompting resocialization. However this is undermined by false indicators of change and protective practices deployed by other men. Finally, intense sex negativity in the BIP interferes with program goals, causing student disengagement and a failure to address sexual abuse reported by participants. Extreme antipornography position of the organization resulted in scapegoating, controlling women’s sexuality, erasing their agency, expressing misogyny, and reification of rape myths. Applied and theoretical implications are discussed.
Vidmar, Christopher, "The Gender Consensus: Hybrid Hegemonic Masculinities in Men’s Interventions." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2022.
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