Reconstructing masculinities? : a social-psychological approach to participation and masculinities in the context of HIV.
Increasingly policy and programmatic responses to HIV and AIDS and intimate partner violence (IPV) are focusing on engaging and working with men and boys as a way to reduce HIV-risk and IPV through transforming gender norms and attitudes, yet there remains little in-depth understanding of the processes through which these interventions work, or do not. In the context of informal settlements in South Africa, using a mixed methods approach this thesis aimed to understand the role of context in informing masculinity and risk in young men and evaluate the Stepping Stones and Creating Futures intervention for promoting more health enhancing masculinities in young men. The study contains five discrete papers alongside an integrative discussion and conclusion that locates the five papers in one overarching narrative drawing together the conceptual components of masculinities, safe social spaces and urban informal settlements. It suggests that urban informal settlements may be particular places that engender forms of masculinity that are harmful to women and men themselves and make change particularly difficult to support. Moreover, politically, rather than seeing working on men and boys as a way to achieve radical change in men’s understandings of themselves and their identities, rather a more subtle shift may be seen, where men start to embody less violent forms of masculinity, but that the forms of masculinity they begin to draw on also are oppressive to women in new, more subtle, ways. However, despite this, for some men involved in the Stepping Stones and Creating Futures intervention, there remain pockets of radical change and promise that potentially can be a springboard for more far-reaching change in gender relationships.