This paper draws upon two critical qualitative empirical research studies (Williams, 2005; Robertson, 2003) which were undertaken with men of differing social class, ethnic, sexual orientation, able-bodied/disabled backgrounds, and men within differing stages during the lifecourse. Differing sample groups were chosen for these studies in order to enable exploration of the interactive affects of social structures and human agency, and to enable analysis of men’s complex and diverse experiences of health. Using Connell’s (2005) work on masculinities, which provides a framework for understanding relationships between masculinities within the context of unequal gender relations, it is argued that masculinities may enable and constrain men’s health beliefs and practices regarding health, illness, social connectedness, and access to services. Findings have implications for research, policy and practice with men around their health. Specifically, it will be argued that health policy at the UK level is insufficiently grounded in a gender relations perspective, and findings challenge the reductionist conceptual and practice focus on ‘behaviour’ and ‘choice’. A perspective for policy and practice is developed which integrates concepts of masculinities and public health in a way that enables policy and practice for health improvement with men, without disempowering women.
|Keywords:||Men’s Health, Masculinity, Masculinities, Public Health|
Senior Research Fellow, Nursing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
Lecturer, School of Health Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
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