Post-Particular Masculinity: Reframing gender order theory in the digital age of Instagram

Joshua Bluteau

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In an increasingly digitized modernity traditional societal tropes are vulnerable to rapid and substantial change. Social media platforms such as Instagram allow for digital selves to be constructed in a landscape made up of networks of like-minded individual actors. This paper examines how traditional western notions of masculinity are beginning to alter through this enactment of digital relations. Connell’s gender order theory posits that there are multiple forms of masculinity that have varied across time, location and culture. This notion, that particular times, locations and cultures have a specific form or forms of masculinity is the principle that this paper seeks to challenge. Built on twenty-four months of digital fieldwork with sartorially inclined men on Instagram, this paper examines how the consumption and production of digital images can alter notions of self, and particularly what this means for those of us who compulsively use social media. This leads to a call for a radical reassessment of masculinity, by asking whether the concept of specific forms of masculinity has begun to shatter. In a modernity where infinite forms of masculinity can be crafted, performed and validated in unique online spaces, how can we conceive of masculinity as a single or even multiple set of concepts? This paper will assert that the advent of digital culture has paved the way for infinite forms of simultaneous masculinity. Through a radical assessment of current digital trends and online tropes, this paper will sound the trumpets for a new understanding of masculinity, gender and personhood, as well as making a prediction about the manner in which a future post-digital world will respond to shifting categories of gender, person, body and masculinity. If, as this paper claims, masculinity has lost specificity in the digital age then a new type of man has been born; the post-particular man.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2020
Event4th International Conference on Gender Studies - Queens Hotel Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jan 2020 → …


Conference4th International Conference on Gender Studies
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period19/01/20 → …
Internet address


  • masculinity
  • gender studies
  • social anthropology
  • Digital Anthropology
  • cyber anthropology
  • virtual anthropology
  • Instagram
  • social media
  • smartphones


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