When Boys Become Boys: Development, Relationships, and Masculinity

When Boys Become Boys: Development, Relationships, and Masculinity

by Judy Y. Chu, Carol Gilligan
     
 

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Based on a two-year study that followed boys from pre-kindergarten through first grade, When Boys Become Boys offers a new way of thinking about boys’ development. Through focusing on a critical moment of transition in boys’ lives, Judy Y. Chu reveals boys’ early ability to be emotionally perceptive, articulate, and responsive in their

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Overview

Based on a two-year study that followed boys from pre-kindergarten through first grade, When Boys Become Boys offers a new way of thinking about boys’ development. Through focusing on a critical moment of transition in boys’ lives, Judy Y. Chu reveals boys’ early ability to be emotionally perceptive, articulate, and responsive in their relationships, and how these “feminine” qualities become less apparent as boys learn to prove that they are boys primarily by showing that they are not girls.

Chu finds that behaviors typically viewed as “natural” for boys reflect an adaptation to cultures that require boys to be stoic, competitive, and aggressive if they are to be accepted as “real boys.” Yet even as boys begin to reap the social benefits of aligning with norms of masculine behavior, they pay a psychological and relational price for renouncing parts of their humanity.

Chu documents boys’ perceptions of the obstacles they face and the pressures they feel to conform, showing that compliance with rules of masculinity is neither automatic nor inevitable. This accessible and engaging book provides insight into ways in which adults can foster boys’ healthy resistance and help them to access a broader range of options as they seek to connect with others while remaining true to themselves.

Read the author's blog on Psychology Today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Chu presents an engaging observational study, taking as her subjects six preschool boys, much in the tradition of Vivian Paley's Superheroes in the Doll Corner (CH, Jan '85). A foreword by Carol Gilligan, who sponsored the original research, sets the tone of this study as an investigation of the ways boys establish the social and emotional habits that allow them to navigate the world of the boy group and later the world of men. The critical focus is on how boys understand the relational world in the preschool years, and how they maintain their relational capacities while learning gender roles. The text is full of delicately observed descriptions and verbatim discussions between Chu and the boys. . . . Depth is added by inclusion of interviews with parents and by the contributions of teachers, giving some background to the children's views of gender. Helpful notes add value. This volume will be excellent supplemental classroom reading and a helpful guide for observational projects, and the style and topic extend the book's audience beyond the academy. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”-Choice

"Reading When Boys Become Boys has significantly altered my thinking about what it means to be a boy."-BookTrib.com

"Chu writes in a manner that is easy to understand and as she bases her research on relational theory, she often comes back to and describe the ways in which relationships become the basis for the boys in her study. Parents will also find this book valuable as they navigate early childhood with their child or children."-Metapsychology

"In this provocative and beautifully written book, Judy Chu reveals that we have been telling ourselves a false story about boys and their development. Boys, she finds, don’t start off being the emotionally disconnected stereotype that our culture projects onto them. They become those stereotypes via cultural socialization. Yet boys also resist, and maintain their humanity despite living in a culture that denies it to them. A must read for anyone interested in boys."-Niobe Way,author of Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection

Library Journal
07/01/2014
Chu (human biology, Stanford Univ.) obtained her PhD from Harvard University under the supervision of feminist and psychologist Carol Gilligan, who provided the foreword for this book. Inspired by Gilligan's work on girls' development in adolescence and their resistance to gender stereotypes, Chu turned her attention to preschool boys. She studied a class of four-year-old boys for two years, wondering: Do young boys have the relational capabilities (e.g., to be attentive, articulate, authentic, and direct in expressing their emotions) essential to develop meaningful relationships? Can they resist conventions of masculinity—individualism, self-sufficiency, emotional stoicism, and toughness—that too often jeopardize relationships? The author's answer to both questions is yes, and she explains it in a most beautiful way, by describing sensibly her interactions with the boys in her study. Four of the boys are each the center of a case study in which Chu demonstrates further how the child succeeds or fails to develop relationships and how it affects his general psychological health. VERDICT Although Chu is short on recommendations for parents, her book offers an insightful portrait of group interactions and hierarchy in boys. She convincingly makes the case that, being human, boys share with girls the capacity to relate. For all readers interested in child development.—Maryse Breton, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814764688
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
06/06/2014
Pages:
242
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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