The aspiration for moral manhood: Christianity, class and migrant workers’ negotiation of masculinities in Shenzhen, China | Q Gao | Geoforum

While geographies of masculinities have recognised the intersectionality and multi-dimensional relations of masculine subjectivities, there is relatively less consideration of how religion, particularly Christianity, shapes the constitution of masculinities. This article examines the formation of Christian and moral masculinity by focusing on the intersection of religion, class and gender among rural migrant workers in Shenzhen, China. It explores how Christian migrant workers tactically deploy religious discourses to construct their masculine moral subjectivity in rural churches, the urban workplace and the family and thus transform and come to terms with (and sometimes reinforce) different hegemonic masculinities normalised by hierarchical labour regime, traditional patriarchal culture, and secular values. I suggest that migrant workers’ performance of moral manhood is itself hegemonic as it is conditioned by a set of normative religious moralities and conduct. Nevertheless, it serves as a tactical alternative for migrant workers to reframe their marginal experiences and to claim a meaningful way of being men that may psychologically empower them. This article aims to bring the critical geographies of masculinity into dialogue with the literature on geographies of Christianity.

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