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Male Headship as Male Agency: An Alternative Understanding of a ‘Patriarchal’ African Pentecostal Discourse on Masculinity

Author(s): Adriaan S. van Klinken

Journal: Religion and Gender
ISSN 1878-5417

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 104;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Masculinity | agency | patriarchy | Pentecostalism | African Christianity

In some Christian circles in Africa, male headship is a defining notion of masculinity. The central question in this article is how discourses on masculinity that affirm male headship can be understood. A review of recent scholarship on masculinities and religion shows that male headship is often interpreted in terms of male dominance. However, a case study of sermons in a Zambian Pentecostal church shows that discourse on male headship can be far more complex and can even contribute to a transformation of masculinities. The main argument is that a monolithic concept of patriarchy hinders a nuanced analysis of the meaning and function of male headship in local contexts. The suggestion is that in some contexts, male headship can be understood in terms of agency.
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