Among Men. Moulding Masculinities, Volume 1. 2003, 184-211
This article examines the ritualized ways in which Norwegian right-wing skinheads construct masculinity. By using a discussion of masculinity, identity and modernity as an analytical frame, the construction of gendered practices within this underground is put into a more global context. In the course of modernity masculinity has been questioned, partly as a result of the critiques put forward by the women's movement. At the same time, the working class has continuously been changing. The orientation of people has evolved from collectivism toward individualism. The ritualized version of masculinity among right-wing skinheads is one possible solution to modern dilemmas. The skinhead part of the right-wing subculture can be understood as one typical example of the crisis within masculinity, described by several authors. Connell (1995) speaks of a crisis in the gender order as a whole, with implications for masculinities. This crisis may provoke attempts to restore a dominant masculinity. Ritualized, dominant, violent forms of masculinity can be interpreted not only as ancient masculinities, displaced in modern society. Rather one can see them as distinct solutions to the dilemmas of modern societies, and the processes of individualization leading to ontological insecurity and the need to cope with the threats against a congruent self-feeling. Such ritualizations are seen in the skinhead dance, drinking, pain, and so on. In this way, a feeling of ontological security is created, which partly takes the form of being a feeling or experience of having an identity. It is the feeling of the lack of identity which leads to various attempts to ritualize and thus bind masculinity. These attempts might take perverse forms, and thus lead to a death-mask of masculinity.
Published in: Søren Ervø and Thomas Johansson (eds.) (2003) Among Men. Moulding Masculinities vol. 1 (Hants: Ashgate Publ. Ltd.). With permission from editors.