Little Boys: tomorrow's macho lads
This paper presents elements of an ethnographic case study of a group of five male friends between the ages of six and eight years. The study sought to examine the ways in which the group's social dynamics interacted to define, regulate and maintain collective understandings of masculinity. Dominant peer culture was found to be particularly potent in championing a hegemonic masculinity embodying and cultivating physical domination, aggression and violence underpinned by constructions of females and femininity as the negative 'other'. These restrictive understandings were interpreted as normalised through the philosophies and practices of the boys' teachers and their principal. Here the naturalist assumptions underpinning dominant early childhood pedagogy constituted the boys as 'gender innocent' and were implicated in understandings of developmentally appropriate practice. Through illuminating clear parallels to associated research, this paper presents further warrant for abandoning these naturalist assumptions which continue to mitigate against gender equity in early childhood (MacNaughton, Rethinking Gender in Early Childhood Education, St Leonards, Allen & Unwin, 2000). In this regard, the paper signifies the importance of maintaining a focus on addressing issues of collective masculinity in early childhood.
Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education
Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified