Fluid Masculinities? Case Study of the Kingdom of Bahrain


Karolak, Magdalena, Hala Guta, and Neva Helena Alexander. 2014. “Fluid Masculinities? Case Study of the Kingdom of Bahrain.” International and Cultural Psychology 4: 159–74.

Authors: Magdalena Karolak, Hala Guta, Neva Helena Alexander


The need to assess male social roles and gender identity in the modern social context prompted the emergence of a gender specialized psychology devoted to the study of men (Levant, R. F., & Pollack, W. S. (1995). A new psychology of men. New York: Basic, p. 1). Indeed, the breadth of the study of psychology of men focuses on the crisis of masculinity in the West. Social changes related to rising male unemployment, female emancipation and transformation of the labor market undermined the position of man as the breadwinner; and consequently led to a gradual dismantling of the patriarchal organization of society (MacInnes, J. (1998). The end of masculinity. Buckingham: Open University Press, p. 55). This research is a qualitative study based on in-depth interviews with a sample of nine Bahraini men aged 20–40 and aims at analyzing the subjective experience of masculinity based on the case study of the Kingdom of Bahrain. A literature overview of the subject is followed by data analysis. Its specific cultural context presents a hegemonic masculinity deeply rooted in the organization of society and supported by religion. Nonetheless, rapid modernization of the region has prompted social, economic and cultural changes. Their impact on the male psyche has not been studied yet. As a matter of fact, research on how masculinity is experienced in the Arabian Peninsula is virtually inexistent. Studies devoted to the subject of masculinity deal primarily with the transformation of female and male roles in society (Elamin & Omair. Personnel Review, 39(6), 747–766, 2010; Schlaffer, E., & Kropiunigg, U. (2011). Saudi youth: Unveiling the force for change. Gulf analysis paper). Even from this perspective, Bahrain has never been studied. Our research is thus a pioneer work since it focuses on the psychological aspects of the construction and experience of masculinity and it deals with the subject of Bahrain.

Keywords: normative ideal, hegemonic masculinity, masculine ideal, feminine trait, luxury brand

Topics: Economies, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Religion Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Bahrain

Year: 2014

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