The “new industrial man” as un-hero: doing postfeminist masculinities in an Italian pharmacological research centre

Pecis, Lara and Priola, Vincenza (2019). The “new industrial man” as un-hero: doing postfeminist masculinities in an Italian pharmacological research centre. Gender Work and Organisation, 26(10) pp. 1413–1432.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12359

Abstract

Recent work has documented the need to engage with how men construct masculinities within postfeminist discourses in the workplace. Postfeminism has sparked debates concerning the changing ideals of masculinities, highlighting the tensions between traditional forms of patriarchy and ‘new’ ways of being a man (e.g., emotional, a ‘new father’, in crisis). Men have been depicted as being in search of a new identity, opposed to the ever‐growing confidence and empowerment of women. In mobilizing postfeminism as a discourse, this article illustrates how men working in an Italian pharmacological research centre (managed by men but dominated by women) assume subject positions that contradictorily fluctuate between tradition and fluid modernity, to reveal a masculinity which we identify with the ‘new industrial man’. The postfeminist masculinities exposed in the analysis mesh pro‐ and anti‐feminist ideas by appealing to un/heroic and romanticized subjectivities. The analysis also shows how un/heroic masculinities and men's appeal to biological differences to reinforce social ones and devalue the feminine obfuscate organizational gender inequalities. The article advances masculinity theory by offering a nuanced analysis of how masculinities and men are affected by paradoxical contemporary pressures for more egalitarian gender relations and a renewed emphasis on patriarchal traditions, which continue to support the gendering of the workplace.

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