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Sexualities, desire and ‘lifestyle’: masculinity constructs in three Greek - page 3 / 17





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makes certain mental representations/beliefs ideological is their relation to society; namely, ideologies have to do with social groups and their interests, conflict among social groups, domination and struggle (van Dijk, 1998). In the case of men’s lifestyle magazines, the ‘Other’ social groups may be women or gay men, as opposed to the dominant social group(s) of men following or displaying hegemonic heteronormative conceptualisations of masculinity and associated behavioural traits. Hegemonic masculinity is the common understanding (the widely shared socio-cognitive representation) of the ‘currently most honoured way of being a man’ (Connell and Messerschmedt, 2005: 832), and it is ‘always constructed in relation to various subordinated masculinities as well as in relation to women’ (Connell, 1987: 138).

In popular culture in general, and lifestyle magazines in particular, practices related to sexualities and gender have also come to be parts of what we may call ‘lifestyle’. Although the term lifestyle ‘in its original sense [before the 80’s] referred simply to an individual’s or group’s way of living and was concerned primarily with social practices such as work, interests or leisure pursuits’ (Edwards, 2003: 142), in the 80’s it came to involve aesthetics and style (and fashion in clothing and furnishings as a commodified version of these properties), as well as consumerist goods in general (ibid.). Apart from aesthetics, sexuality has also been ‘commodified’, widely represented and discussed in popular media, used in advertising in order to promote products and services but also in order to ‘sell’ media texts such as magazines, TV shows etc. These phenomena are also observed in the Greek media and society (cf. Kosetzi, 2007). Indeed, the English word lifestyle is the term used also in Greek to label this broad genre of magazines, with the same meaning as their English-speaking world counterparts.

2. Data and Methodology

In this paper I am discussing three texts from the three men’s magazines of my corpus2. The three magazines are Status, Playboy and Nitro. It is notable that even though all three texts analysed here construct normatively heterosexual masculinity models, they relate to slightly different aspects of male hegemony - which is thus not a homogeneous concept but again a cluster of beliefs on which one can draw selectively. Status is more formal and ‘cultured’, in line with the image of hegemonic masculinity, dominant not only in terms of interpersonal relations - heterosexual romantic relations - but also in terms of financial and professional position. Playboy is laddish and ‘rough’ (the only international title, it bears many similarities to its English-speaking counterparts), whereas Nitro would be the closest Greek equivalent to the British ‘New Lad’ (see Benwell, 2003b and also analysis below) – very similar to Playboy but more reflexive and ironic, somewhat more refined but definitely not reaching the ‘seriousness’ of Status (Status also includes humour and irony, it does not however reach ‘playfulness’).

In order to study ideologies in discourse – as knowledge and attitudes –I employ the notion of presupposition, in line with Stalnaker’s approach of presuppositions as related to interlocutors’ background knowledge underlying discourse (see e.g. 1973, what Chilton would call presumptions, 2004: 64). This includes pragmatic knowledge, that is, knowledge about how discourse works, including appropriacy, functions and ‘felicity conditions’ of speech acts, knowledge of Grice’s conversation

2 Many thanks to John Heywood for his very useful comments on an earlier version of the paper.

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