Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Stephen Bedi

Second Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Third Advisor

Scott Moeschberger

Abstract

In a time when increasing ambiguity in gender roles has become the norm, young men experience difficulty in knowing what masculinity truly means. For those men who hold to a specific religious or spiritual tradition, navigating this path to manhood can seem even more complex. The present study examines the interrelationship of masculinity and spirituality as it pertains to the experiences of males at a faith-based college. The research questions of the current study highlight two areas: 1) men’s construction of masculinity and 2) men’s experiences of masculinity in light of their spirituality. The researcher used a qualitative phenomenological method as the framework for semi-structured interviews with nine men at a faith-based institution of higher education. Interviews revealed a number of factors in the masculine identity construction process, including: 1) men learn by observation and conversation; 2) other men play a significant role in this process; 3) masculinity relates closely to spirituality; 4) this process usually occurs most prominently in adolescence; and 5) men need space to process their masculinity. Regarding the question of men’s experiences of masculinity in light of their spirituality, participants identified: 1) masculinity and spirituality as tightly interrelated concepts; 2) a shift from a “worldly” to a “godly” form of masculinity; 3) men feeling masculine in more stereotypical settings; 4) an incongruence between beliefs of masculinity and expressions of masculinity; 5) an emphasis on the “roles” of men; 6) different expectations of masculinity based on context; and 7) a discomfort with expressing certain spiritual acts as a man. The present study provides suggestions for further research, along with the implications of these findings on the work of those within institutions of higher education.

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