Original Research

Vulnerable masculinities: Implications of gender socialisation in three rural Swazi primary schools

Ncamsile D. Motsa, Pholoho J. Morojele
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a580 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.580 | © 2019 Ncamsile D. Motsa, Pholoho J. Morojele | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 August 2017 | Published: 24 April 2019

About the author(s)

Ncamsile D. Motsa, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Pholoho J. Morojele, Gender and Social Justice Education Department, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Background: This article draws on social constructionism to explore vulnerable boys’ constructions of gender within three primary schools in Swaziland.

Objectives: It seeks to understand the ways in which vulnerable boys make meaning of masculinities and the implications of these on their social and academic well-being in schools.

Method: The study adopted a qualitative narrative inquiry methodology, utilising individual and focus group semi-structured interviews and a participatory photovoice technique as its methods of data generation. The participants comprised 15 purposively selected vulnerable boys – orphaned boys, those from child-headed households and from poor socio-economic backgrounds, aged between 11 and 16 years.

Results: The findings denote that vulnerable boys constructed their masculinities through heterosexuality where the normative discourse was that they provide for girls in heterosexual relationships. The vulnerable boys’ socio-economic status rendered them unable to fulfil these obligations. Failure to fulfil the provider role predisposed vulnerable boys to ridicule and humiliation. However, some vulnerable boys adopted caring attitudes as they constructed alternative masculinities.

Conclusion: The study recommends the need to affirm and promote alternative masculinities as a strategy for enhancing gender-inclusive and equitable schooling experiences for vulnerable boys.


gender equality; masculinities; poverty; vulnerable boys; schooling; Swaziland


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