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Masculinity and drinking and driving among male students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

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This study examines the relationship between hegemonic masculinity and drunken driving behaviour among male students. Hegemonic masculinity is the most dominant form of masculinity and can be described as an ideological model of what is considered to be a 'real man' (Kimmel 2000:11). According to Wetherall (1996:323) hegemonic masculinity is essentially 'robocop'; tough, assertive, aggressive, all- conquering, cool and big. This research hypothesised that men who drink and drive are much more likely to display characteristics of hegemonic masculinity. Excessive drinking has always been synonymous with student culture and this research focuses on alcohol being viewed as a rite of passage for young male students into adulthood. Socialisation theories are used to explain how patterns of alcohol consumption among individuals are related to the socio-cultural context in which they live. These theories also explain how the ideals of hegemonic masculinity are acquired through the reproduction of norms, values and beliefs in a society or group of people. Thus this research project focuses on how alcohol consumption is considered part of the 'male domain' and due to this, men feel great pressure to drink in order to maintain their masculine identity. The research involved male students at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg. Quantitative methods were used in the form of a survey questionnaire. The survey provided statistical information about the incidence of drunken driving relating to masculinity discourse. The sample consisted of male student drivers who drank alcohol. Overall the sample consisted of young adult males with 215 male students participating in the survey with an average age of 22 years. The survey data was statistically analysed using a computer programme known as the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The data was divided into two groups, namely, the responses of sober male drivers and the responses of drunk male drivers. The sober drivers served as the control group while the drunk drivers served as the experimental group. The responses from these two groups were used to conduct independent samples t-tests and chi-square tests in order to assess which group displayed more attributes of hegemonic masculinity and whether or not there was a difference. Student responses from the open-ended questions were included as direct quotes to highlight the findings in the related closed questions. The findings reveal that the male students who drink and drive were more likely to display characteristics of hegemonic masculinity than the sober male drivers. These characteristics included: risk-taking, recklessness, strength, control and independence.


Thesis (M.Soc.Sc.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2008.


Masculinity--South Africa., Drunken driving--South Africa., Male college students--South Africa--Attitudes., Gender identity--South Africa., Men--South Africa--Identity., Theses--Sociology.