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This paper is part of a project to write a book about the long-term transformations of Western masculinities. Its goal is to outline and to put into critical context the main theoretical references on which the historical analyses are based. First, the central statements of Pierre Bourdieu’s Masculine Domination are presented, then the French sociologist’s thesis, namely that the “structure of the gap is maintained between genders” is challenged. Next, in order to re-position Norbert Elias’ Civilizing Process as the founding text of Historical Studies on Men and Masculinities, the German sociologist’s work is subjected to critical scrutiny. Finally, Raewyn Connell’s conceptual framework is outlined from a critical perspective. In the wake of Bourdieu, it is intended to conceive of masculinities as habituses crystallized in social practice. However, contrary to Bourdieu, it is suggested that there are different layers of the habitus, and, as argued by Norbert Elias, these layers have crystallized in the long run as part of the European civilizing process. In the wake of Connell, this long term historical transformation is conceptualized as an interplay between hegemonic and non-hegemonic masculine dispositions. Finally, it is concluded that there is a strong family resemblance among these three authors, mostly, due to their relational thinking and qualitative research orientation.

Keywords: history; West; habitus; civilizing process; hegemonic and counter-hegemonic masculinities; Pierre Bourdieu; Norbert Elias; Raewyn Connell

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