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From Boys to Men: Shifting Family Gender Ideologies among Black and White Adult Men

Family and Health: Evolving Needs, Responsibilities, and Experiences

ISBN: 978-1-78441-126-8, eISBN: 978-1-78441-125-1

Publication date: 20 October 2014



This paper explores masculinity ideologies which influence family perspectives, and therefore, instigate mental distress among Black and White men between the ages of 18–30.


Using a grounded theory approach, 30 in-depth interviews were conducted to explore the social construction of masculinity and investigate the ways in which gender ideologies influence family gender roles.


Black men’s gender ideology was influenced by racial identity and stressed a communal and collaborative identity which can be seen by the reliance on religion and maintaining family financial stability. White employed a pragmatic, individual perspective that emphasized individual behavior in a changing society. They embraced evolving discourses necessary to cope with changing family structure and refocused attention from family of origin conflict.

Research limitations/implications

Though this is a qualitative study, it does provide a starting point for further research on how the family roles of Black and White men affect their mental health.


Few studies have employed a racial comparison research design to investigate mental distress associated with gender ideologies. The paper suggests that moving forward will require, as Black men suggested, adopting a critical racial sociology of gender that emphasizes processes and social structure. Analyzing manhood acts through the lens of social marginality, identity work to claim membership in the male group, and the identification of characteristics to maintain male privileges vis-à-vis women may prove to be useful. Focusing on process allows an exploration of social forces that influence masculinity, gendered household ideologies, and mental health.



Strong, M.T. and Lawson, E. (2014), "From Boys to Men: Shifting Family Gender Ideologies among Black and White Adult Men", Family and Health: Evolving Needs, Responsibilities, and Experiences (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Vol. 8B), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 271-296.



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