AbstractThis thesis is based on fieldwork, carried out in three periods from 2002 to 2006, in Jamaica. I investigate gender imagery, gender performance and gender relations within the contemporary popular culture, called “dancehall”. The study involves themes like masculinity, femininity, sexuality and power relations, andtakes place within a space mostly occupied by people with a socioeconomic lower class background. This is the social background of my informants, who are men and women identifying with dancehall discourse and dancehall practice.
I have identified a masculine ideal, called the badman, and two feminine ideals named as the mother and the dancehall babe. These are ideals presented through dancehall music, as well as through everyday discourses and practices of women and men related to dancehall.They are part of a gender discourse which view both menand women as agents, active in a “sexual game”, where power is constantly negotiated. I argue that sexuality necessarily and legitimately is a key element in the strategies applied by both men and women in the context of the dancehall.
People’s practice is influenced by discourse. There are, however, other discourses than the dancehall discourse. I argue that people in practice relate to and act according to more than one discourse, where the discourse applied depends on the contexts people act within. Furthermore, people make reflective choices as they strive towards some ends, and in these struggles, social factors, as well as discourses,influence the strategies and the results.