Subordinate masculinity in a 21st-Century China city: An anthropological case study

Title: Subordinate masculinity in a 21st-Century China city: An anthropological case study

Speaker: Magdalena Wong (Independent Scholar)

Date: 9 October 2020

Time: 1:00-2:30 pm

Zoom Meeting Info

ID: 942 9474 4384

Passcode: 137265

Link:  https://cuhk.zoom.us/j/94294744384  


This paper examines issues of domination and subordination among men as well as between men and women. It starts with an explanation of a version of hegemonic masculinity (Connell 1987, 1995) that the author has uncovered in contemporary China – the Able-Responsible Man. This masculine ideal centers on notions of men’s ability and responsibility. Those who embody values that are opposite to the cultural ideal are subordinated. The main character who appears in the paper represents a specially disadvantaged group of men who commit to uxorilocal marriages. Their inability to marry in accordance with traditional norms and continue the family name, denies them respect as manly men. We shall see in the case study how a prospective in-married son-in-law suffered a subordinated status within his affinal kin network and social circle, and how he exercised acts of compensatory masculinity in response. The compensatory behavior reinforced gender inequality. The research was grounded in participant observation that took place in a Sichuan city called Nanchong, spanning over a period of 16 months from 2013 to 2018.


Magdalena Wong is an independent scholar who transitioned to academia as an accomplished practitioner in marketing research. She graduated with a PhD in anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2017. Before pursuing her interests in anthropology, Magdalena founded and managed a major research company providing insight, information and consultancy services to global clients seeking to expand their business in Greater China. Her first monograph, Everyday Masculinities in 21st-Century China: The Making of Able-Responsible Men, was published by HKU Press in 2020.

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