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Queering masculinity in the digital age: An exploration of possibilities of intimacy, identity, community and activism emerging between offline and online worlds

Kerpen, Scott 2021. Queering masculinity in the digital age: An exploration of possibilities of intimacy, identity, community and activism emerging between offline and online worlds. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In this thesis, I explore possibilities of queering masculinity in the digital age. Drawing on data generated through a collaborative online researcher-solicited blog/diary and participatory biographical relational map interviews with a small group of LGBTQIA+ youths identifying as male or assigned male at birth, diffractively read through some of my own wider auto/ethnographic observations, I explore how cisheteromasculine ideals often assigned or denied to such bodies come to be reproduced, ruptured and redefined. Building on literature around oppressive heteronormative and cisnormative histories territorialising bodies and desires, histories re-produced through commodified modes of resistance, I work with participants, aged between 18-26 and living across South Wales and South West England, to understand how digital media and technologies enable and displace new possibilities for intimacy, community building, identity work and activism. Nevertheless, attentive to issues of polarisation, and conscious of the internet empowering not only marginalised groups, I resist utopian visions of digital emancipation. I move beyond thinking about digital media, spaces and practices as bounded objects with inherent risks and opportunities, instead considering the internet as a site of immanent potential, with connections and embodiments actualised between online and offline worlds entangled in differentiated affective histories, digital infrastructures and emotional and economic investments. I demonstrate that digital spaces and practices, paradoxically come to both empower and disempower, operating to both alienate and connect users, promoting boundary crossing intimacy, empathy and solidarity while at the same time polarising and producing possibilities for narcissistic exploitative desires to flow free from concerns of care, responsibility and accountability. In thinking about digital empowerment, I question, empowerment of who and what exactly, and at whose and what’s expense? I argue that possibilities of being and becoming, while certainly uprooted from many relational constraints, are far from evenly distributed, with some bodies emerging as more fluid than others.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 March 2022
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2022 02:14

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