Chen, A.S. 1999. “Lives at the Center of the Periphery, Lives at the Periphery of the Center: Chinese American Masculinities and Bargaining with Hegemony.”

Chen, Anthony S. 1999. “Lives at the Center of the Periphery, Lives at the Periphery of the Center: Chinese American Masculinities and Bargaining with Hegemony.” Gender and Society 13(5): 584-607.

Works through Hochschild (1989)’s “gender strategy” – how men and women solve everyday problems by using socially and culturally constructed notions of gender. How to ‘achieve’ Chinese-American masculinity in the presence of negative stereotypes – gender strategies of compensation (avoids having to ‘blush’), deflection (blushes, then makes up for it), denial (denies he has to blush), and repudiation (rejects blushing). Introduces “hegemonic bargain” as – “the specific mechanism by which hegemony can be understood to operate in the social order […] ‘achieving manhood’ by consciously trading on, or unconsciously benefiting from, the privileges afforded by his race, gender, class, generation, and/or sexuality” (585) – some gender strategies participate in HB, while repudiation does not. Functionalism and sex roles was reassessed through new studies of masculinities, exposing masculinity not as monolithic but multiplex and heterogeneous (Carrigan, Connell, and Lee 1985). Gender as power-laden, bound in history and culture, and a point of conflict. “Masculinity is therefore not a homogenous, static object divested of struggle; rather it must be seen as a multi-faceted, dynamic process suffused with power relations (Carrigan, Connell, and Lee 1985, 181 here 586). Hegemony as “an advanced mode of domination in late capitalist societies that ‘is characterized by [a] combination of force and consent’ that is used to promulgate a view of the world to which the oppressed and the oppressor both submit” (Gramsci 1971, 80 quote Chen 586). Hegemony as taken-for-granted assumptions about gender, and relationships between men, women, masculinity, and femininity. HM as an ideal type a la Weber – associates hegemony with men often, though not exclusively, associated with uppermost ascriptive hierarchies – sometimes misinterpreted as men who only occupy elite class positions. HM as a position in the social order, rather than essentialized characteristics, varying across time and place (which, in its variability, acts as an element of strength). HB “more or less conforms to the conventional definition of a bargain, that is, an exchange between two relatively equal parties” but a patriarchal bargain “is relatively broad, designating as it does the conditions under which women strategically cope with and adapt to patriarchal oppression” (600) – HB is different than PB because women bargain from weaker, unequal positions. Heg domination is not just about gender, but involves race, class, sexuality, and other aspects of difference.


Carrigan, T.R., R.W. Connell, and J. Lee. 1985. “Toward a New Sociology of Masculinity.” Theory and Society 14:551-604.

Gramsci, A. 1971. Selections from Prison Notebooks. New York: International.

Hochschild, A. 1989. The Second Shift. New York: Viking.


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