Mutated Masculinities: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the New Lad and the New Man in Sons of Anarchy and Ray Donovan

Jaspreet K. Nijjar
  • The Journal of Men s Studies, June 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1060826518782196

Representations of hegemonic (dominant) forms of masculinity in Sons of Anarchy and Ray Donovan

What is it about?

This article examines how hegemonic forms of masculinity are represented in two U.S. television dramas: Sons of Anarchy and Ray Donovan. In doing so, it questions whether the socio-cultural concepts of the New Lad and the New Man are useful for analyses of hegemonic masculinity in contemporary, male-focalized television, or whether they need updating. Using Critical Discourse Analysis, I argue that protagonists from both programs embody mutated, destabilized versions of the New Lad and the New Man that connect to a current “crisis of masculinity” in North American society and culture. Offering timely conceptual updates of the New Lad and the New Man (the “Family-Oriented New Lad” and the “Emotionally Inarticulate New Man”), I show that these terms remain useful, but also need revision to capture the intricate struggle between inexpressiveness and emotionality characterizing present-day U.S. dramas.

Why is it important?

This paper makes a significant and timely contribution to the study of men and masculinities, as its use of Critical Discourse Analysis, while specific to Sons of Anarchy and Ray Donovan, provides insight into the representations of emotionally conflicted men that also pervade current, male-focalized US television more generally. Equally, I offer much-needed updates to the socio-cultural concepts of the New Lad and the New Man, which were developed to describe older, more idealistic masculine portrayals than those pervading US popular culture today. However, this analysis is not limited to the media, but also makes crucial observations about conflicting expectations of inexpressiveness and emotionality for men in broader society and culture, thus adding to the wealth of debate on a current “crisis of masculinity."

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