Hegemonic masculinities after forced migration: Exploring relational performances of Syrian refugee men in The Netherlands

Rik P. Huizinga*, Bettina van Hoven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Masculinities research has started to disentangle the gendered challenges men face after forced migration. This paper aims to contribute to this emerging work by exploring constructions of masculinities of young Syrian refugee men in the Netherlands. It builds on the accounts of twenty-two Syrian men between nineteen and thirty-five years old whose experiences were explored using in-depth interviews and walking interviews. Our respondents construct masculinities predominantly in relation to labour market access, paid work and perceived social status, however, meanings of masculinities are differentiated by age, social class, race, and religion. Hence, we illustrate how respondents use personal biographies and generational narratives to shape these masculinities in relation to a restrictive host society. We find that older, higher educated respondents shape masculinities in relation to status loss and unrealised aspirations emphasised by experiences of racialisation and marginalisation in the local labour market. We go on to argue that younger respondents, who did not obtain any higher education due to the civil war, seem more flexible in finding work. As a result, they are able to maintain more traditional breadwinner masculinities, masculinities they use to counter societal narratives in the Netherlands concerning Muslim men. Last, we demonstrate how these generational differences affect perceptions and performances of masculinities in relation to gender, generational relations and life course advancement. The paper emphasises masculinities of young refugee Syrian men in the Netherlands as geographical and temporal constructions, remaining highly nuanced, plural and contextual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-565
Number of pages23
JournalGender place and culture
Issue number8
Early online date1-Jul-2020
Publication statusPublished - 3-Aug-2021


  • Gender relations
  • labour market integration
  • race and racism
  • Syrian refugees
  • status loss
  • The Netherlands
  • RACE

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