Exploration of masculinities in academic organisations: A tentative typology using career and relationship commitment

Pat O’Connor, Clare O’Hagan and Julia Brannen

University of Limerick, Ireland, University of London


In the Irish context and internationally a good deal of attention has been paid to the performance of masculinity among school students. However with a small number of notable exceptions, relatively little attention has been paid to masculinities in academic organisations. Drawing on a qualitative study in one university, this article proposes a tentative typology of masculinities in such an organisation. This typology involves two axes: career commitment and relationship commitment (with respondents classified as strong or weak on each dimension).

Four types of masculinities are identified:

  • Type 1: Careerist masculinity: Strong career and weak relationship commitment;
  • Type 2: Enterprising masculinity: Strong career and strong relationship commitment;
  • Type 3: Pure scientific masculinity: Weak career and weak relationship commitment;
  • Type 4: Family oriented breadwinning masculinity: Weak career and strong relationship commitment.

The titles careerist masculinity and family oriented breadwinning masculinity reflect generic characteristics. The titles of the other two types reflect the data derived from this particular sample. Since one of the important contributions of this article is an understanding of masculinities in an academic organisation, labels which relate to that context have been used. Although three of these types modify hegemonic careerist masculinity, they all reflect the persistence of an underlying system of male privileging in the changing landscape of higher education. This typology is seen as potentially having implications for theories and practices of motivation and management in academic organisations.

Keywords: Academic organisations, career, masculinities, relational commitment, typology

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O'Connor O Hagan and Brannen Masculinities Current Sociology.pdf


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