The constitution of modern masculinity in German hegemonial print media: a discourse analysis
Dr. Wichert, Frank
Die Dissertation erscheint in Kürze auch als Verlagspublikation im Verlag Unrast, Münster
This doctoral thesis elaborates how appellations to the subject category of man (i.e. the social category of the male as opposed to the female human) are produced and re-produced in German-speaking hegemonial print media, i.e. how the subject man is constituted and extrapolated by print media discourse.This analysis provides the first empirical research that demonstrates how modern-day components are transported by print media discourse in order to constitute masculinity. First, the thesis describes the discursive context which, with its specific transformation of knowledge, can be seen as the discursive background to modern media coverage. Especially the discursive events of the German 1968 movement (frequently associated with the emerging permissive age in Western society) and the new forms of subjectivity subsequent to the 1989 political changes in Germany leading up to the end of the Cold War have had sustained influence on the conception of modern masculinity. Recent research shows, that as a social category gender has been transformed a great deal in the course of history. The discourse concerning gender ascriptions has changed over time from the assumption that women are incomplete men into a biological/genetical and social-based dualism which in current print media discourse sees women and men as entities in their own right. Furthermore, a review of the research topic reveals that the ontological constitution of gender is not tenable from a discourse analytical point of view. As far as theory and method are concerned the presented thesis is based on the Critical Discourse Analysis developed by Siegfried Jäger (Jäger 2001) tying in with the work of Michel Foucault and Jürgen Link. The particular concept of discourse which has been developed in this connection and the inherent concepts of normalism theory make it possible to analyse modern texts within their discursive context. Especially the discursive forms of narration, collective symbolism and the role models on offer to people in every-day discourse help to constitute concepts of masculinity in the discourse of hegemonial print media. Second, the empirical analysis comprises two parts. In the first part the constitution of role models for masculinity is analysed in two daily newspapers FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG (FAZ) and FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU (FR) and in one weekly news magazine FOCUS. The analysis covers all articles which were published in 1997 and contain significant role ascriptions to the subjectivity of man. This structural analysis enables scrutiny of various specific role appelations within the typical print media sub-topics, e.g. sports, politics, health etc.. This first part of empirical analysis shows that the constitution of role models in print media is guided by the stratification clusters of the dispositive of competition. In fact, success and, symbolically encoded, advancement are typical narrative structures to describe men. The second part of empirical analysis makes mans positioning of the self evident within relevant discourses. To this purpose interviews taken for the news magazine FOCUS were analysed in depth. The analysis of modern masculinity can be summarized as follows: The production of an autonomous ego is the pattern of the constitution of the subjectivity of the male human within the hegemonial print media discourse in Germany (corresponding to the self-made man, i.e. constructed by the subject himself with no outside help). This conclusion derives from the structural analysis of the attribution of other men on the one hand and the in-depth analysis of the attribution of the self on the other. Far-reaching individual and societal consequences result from the proliferating (re-)production of the autonomous ego in print media discourse. Constantly being called upon to be individual or even autonomous requires of the subject a compulsion to delimit itself. These delimitations can touch on various sections of human life, such as social contact with selected persons professional and societal success proves to be the most important distinctive feature. Furthermore and this seems to be a conditio sine qua non (financial) success has to follow on in order to reach such a state. The possession of money appears to be a further tried means to constitute a seemingly autonomous ego with which it can delimit itself from others. This tendency can be found both on the level of ascriptions (by others) as well as on the level of description (by oneself). Thus, the evolution of a seemingly autonomous ego and the achievement of financial success form the two poles around which the concepts of the constitution of masculinity revolve. The subject relation is connected where the individual and the state is concerned. In fact, indivual interest should as far as possible be covered by the interests of the state in order to fend off threats and impacts on the autonomous ego and its (financial) success.The calls for autonomy of the subject and its actions as well as financial security are (re-)produced both on the subjective and the polical-societal level in terms of normality. The area of what is deemed to be normal is opposed to the non-normal. In this way both individual criminals and war activities are encoded. Aggressive confrontation is portrayed negatively as being not normal, except in some cases where the own self has to be protected against violence. With some exceptions intoxication by drugs is encoded negatively. They represent a threat to the self and the self is in danger of dissolving. The area of the non-normal is made up of all the potential threats to the self. These can be threats from outside or poisons from the outside which threaten to disturb the self. Both empirical parts of the paper show that nearly all topics touched which are connected with the discourse strand man (re-)produce a certain range of positioning. Alongside typical positionings the possibility to refer to alternative or at least deviant discourse positions. This is particularly true where the area of the biopolitical dispositive is concerned. Apart from traditional family-based concepts, in which the man is the provider, husband of a housewife and father, deviant concepts can be found, e.g. homosexual relationships, promiscuity, non-mariatal relationships. Thus the area of biopolitical positionings has broadened in comparison with traditional family-based concepts. The range of collective symbolism connected with subjectivity shows how modern masculinity encodes the own self and what the collective symbols are which are intertwined with that topic. The question as to which frictions are brought up by these findings can be asked. If it is not putting through homogenous traditional concepts of patriarchy handed down especially these contradictions and alliances must be pronounced and emphasized which oppose to traditional repressive structures.