Journal article

“To be a man is not easy”: Everyday economic marginality and configurations of masculinity among rural Ghanaian youth

Author: Isaac Dery
Published by: Masculinities and Social Change
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How might an African based knowledge critically cast doubt upon globally hegemonic notions and traditions in understanding and theorizing men and masculinities? This essay examines this question through a critical reading of what it may mean to be ‘an emerging adult man’. The essay privileged a critical understanding of how poverty, poor crop yields, and climate volatility shape constructions of ‘emergent adulthood’. Drawing on interviews with men from northwestern Ghana, findings suggest that emerging adult men are committed to their cultural obligations as heteronormative breadwinners, yet ‘emergent adulthood’ is complicated by status insecurity, vulnerabilities, and powerlessness. To negotiate emergent adulthood, informants combine migrating to Techiman and joining ‘boys boys’ to achieve social respect and recognition. To understand the meanings of emergent adulthood, I argue for analytical sophistication on multiple issues and daily struggles that encapsulate rural life.