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Oct 8, 2014 - problems, or even family violence that can lead to the loss of home (Hill, ..... arren. 31. Married. 0. Bartender. B. A. US$20,000–US$29,999. Will .... The ambiance of male spaces often resembles that of a sports bar or a work-.

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Mancaves and masculinity Risto Moisio and Mariam Beruchashvili Journal of Consumer Culture published online 8 October 2014 DOI: 10.1177/1469540514553712 The online version of this article can be found at: http://joc.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/10/07/1469540514553712

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Article

Mancaves and masculinity

Journal of Consumer Culture 0(0) 1–21 ! The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1469540514553712 joc.sagepub.com

Risto Moisio California State University, Long Beach, USA

Mariam Beruchashvili California State University, Northridge, USA

Abstract How do mancaves, male spaces in or around the house, contribute to construction of masculinity? Our research challenges the perspective that male spaces emerge in opposition to the feminine conception of home. Findings from interviews with American suburban men reveal that male spaces represent therapeutic venues that help men in alleviating identity pressures created by work as well as domestic life and aid revitalization of men’s identities as fathers and husbands. Circumscribed by egalitarian ideology and the family ideal, male spaces also foster paternal and fraternal bonds instrumental for creating masculinity at home. Keywords Mancaves, home, domesticity, masculinity, identity, gender, space

It may be surprising that despite the extensive television, film, magazine, and news coverage of mancaves – spaces around the home such as basements, workshops, or game rooms – research on their role in men’s identity work remains scarce in studies of consumption. Previous research recognizes the importance of consumption in men’s identity work (Holt and Thompson, 2004; Schouten and McAlexander, 1995); it primarily focuses on the role of public spaces such as the ESPN Zone (Sherry et al., 2004), barbershop (Fischer et al., 1998), or golf course in maintaining and affirming masculinity (McGinnis et al., 2008). At the same time, studies on home are invisibly gendered. They overlook the latent connection between masculinity and home’s spaces. Past research on home in sociology of consumption examines consumers’ identity attachments to home (e.g. Belk, Corresponding author: Mariam Beruchashvili, David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8377, USA. Email: [email protected]

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1988; Gross, 2008; Hill, 1991) and the maintenance of connections between identity and home through possessions (Bardhi et al., 2012; Tian and Belk, 2005), as well as the processes through which home becomes ‘‘homey’’ (McCracken, 1989). In this article, we build on literatures on home and masculinity as well as interviews with 49 American suburban men to examine how home’s male spaces emerge as venues for men’s identity work. Conceptually, our research seeks to revise theory on domestic masculinity, the view that men create their own confined spaces in response to the emasculating, feminine aura of home (Gelber, 1997). The idea that domestic spaces such as garages, barbecue pits, workshops, or even gardens affirm conventional ideals of masculinity is well documented (e.g., Miller, 2010). However, in our study, we develop insights into mancaves’ broader therapeutic uses by our informants. We find that mancaves contribute to our informants’ experience of identity revitalization in relation to work, family, and other men. Our research thus posits that mancaves offer the means to create a socially integrative form of domestic masculinity.

Theoretical background Home and identity A body of scholarship recognizes that consumers create and maintain their individual and collective identities through homeownership (e.g., Belk, 1988). For instance, Gross (2008) finds that homeowners who lost their homes following foreclosure experience it as a loss of a part of their identities. Similarly, research examining the loss of home due to mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, financial problems, or even family violence that can lead to the loss of home (Hill, 1991), details the emotion-laden nature of consumers’ identity connection to homeownership. Thus, identities remain connected to home even if consumers have lost them. Reflecting this view, McCracken (1989) theorizes that homes are places that aid the enactment of family. From this perspective, homeownership and the spaces around the home partake in construction of men’s identities. Existing scholarship also emphasizes the importance of homemaking, the practices of actively making a home. Contrasted with the idea that home is a fixed locale, Douglas (1991) views home as the contingent outcome of homemaking through which men might develop a connection to home. Home, in this view, comes into being once the owner of the house projects herself onto the home and its many domains through acts of homemaking. Such a view is echoed by Miller (1987), who posits that consumption involves objectification of cultural ideals and identities through such acts as home decoration or repair. Recent research on consumers living in trailer parks extends this theorizing, finding that the house, its furnishings, and the care consumers invest in their yards constitute a type of a collective moral identity project that constructs the owners’ pasts, moral disciplines, characteristic traits, and life-defining hardships in line with the moral ethos of their habitus (Saatcioglu and Ozanne, 2013). Similarly, Arsel and Bean

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(2013) find that homeowners’ identities are created through home decoration, guided by the taste regime of soft modernism. In the theoretical perspective advanced in this article, we propose that home’s male spaces cultivate masculine identity at home. Such a perspective views home as a physical environment constituted by its many gendered spaces (Spain, 1992), bearing the cultural heritage of gendered associations. Our perspective is congruent with the ‘‘home as order’’ notion (Bardhi and Askegaard, 2009), which suggests that the arrangement of spaces and objects, such as chairs in the hotel room, are part of identity work. We posit that the uses of domestic male spaces occur in light of cultural constructions of domesticity and masculinity. Such theorizing draws attention to the reality that home is laden with feminine rather than masculine meanings. In creating an identity within the confines of feminine domestic house space, men are likely to carve out their own territory where masculine identity can be made.

Home spaces and domestic masculinity According to Gelber (1997), in the aftermath of the Second World War, middle-class American men sought to forge domestic masculinity, defined by the creation of male spaces. As a model of homemaking, it centers on the premise that men perceive the home as emasculating, capable of undermining their masculine identities (e.g., Rotundo, 1993), and consequently seek a spatially segregated domain such as a basement, a workshop, a garage, or a barbecue pit, which benefit from historically accrued masculine associations. Activities such as working with heavy tools in one’s workshop or barbecuing allow men to affirm their identities as men in the sphere of the home (e.g., Matthews, 2009). Following Kimmel (1987) and his analysis of men’s responses to the feminist movement, domestic masculinity caters to men’s inclinations to create spaces that represent ‘‘islands of untainted masculinity and purified pockets of virility’’ (p. 262). Male spaces at home thus represent reactions to women’s symbolic dominion over the home. Social historians posit that domestic masculinity addresses demands for greater male involvement in the home. Osgerby (2001) credits postwar cultural ideological processes of domestic containment as well as the emergence of the compassionate marriage ideal as enabling the emotionally satisfying role of home in men’s identities. Barbecuing, a vehicle for domestic masculinity, ‘‘reasserted the postwar male’s position outside the public sphere as a hunter,’’ as well as offering men a ‘‘refuge in a traditional and stable identity’’ (Matthews, 2009: 7). Due to emblematic ties to meat – which was itself touted as highly masculine – tool handling, and the hunter ideal, barbecuing offered Americans a sense of symbolic stability. Barbecuing allowed the American nation to affirm its core values during a time when perceived changes in gender roles were elevating national concerns about masculinity. Miller (2010) similarly echoes the domestic masculinity thesis in asserting that ‘‘Because outdoor grilling was generally seen as being a masculinity

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activity it allowed men to take part in an event that straddled the line between male activity and family activity’’ (p. 7). Recent cultural developments appear to invoke domestic masculinity as an identity-construction strategy. Lifestyle television has become a promoter of home’s spaces in gendered definition and expression (Attwood, 2005). Since the 1990s, home and its ongoing edification quest have become the focus of an endless parade of TV shows, many of which contribute to the gendering of home’s spaces. Speaking to this development, White (2013) contends that gendered perspectives on home tend to prevail in TV shows like House Hunters. In such shows, mancaves represent the most flagrant expression of gender difference . . . The man cave . . . goes beyond the tropes that territorialize different parts of the home in gender terms to suggest that houses in general, and the varied domestic activities and habits they contain, are redolent with femininity. (White, 2013: 240)

DIY Network’s Man Caves, a long-running show on the air since 2007, represents the most explicit advocate of this trend. To advance our view of domestic masculinity, the current research builds on the literature criticizing the theorized, exclusively oppositional relationship between masculinity and domesticity (Gorman-Murray, 2008). This perspective suggests that relationships between masculinity and domesticity may not be primarily oppositional. For instance, research investigating men’s involvement in conventionally feminine activities at home, such as interior decorating (Marsh, 1990), do suggest that these men’s involvement in the home may presuppose that masculinity and domesticity are not always oppositional, but rather that domesticity may enable new forms of domestic masculinity. In our study, we evaluate the therapeutic role played by the framing of home as a haven, distanced from public scrutiny and surveillance, an intimate arena for forging important relationships (Shelley, 2004). We propose that male spaces can be therapeutic in that they offer safety, comfort, and a venue for revitalization of men’s identities. Rather than affirming conventional notions of masculinity, male spaces may foster reinvention of the ways in which men create masculinity at home.

Method The methodology in this research is qualitative. We use the context of male spaces at home purposively, with the intent to evaluate prior theory on domestic masculinity to make a contribution to the existing scholarship (Arnould et al., 2006). Our research design follows the extended case method, which uses data for the goal of extending the contours of existing theory (Burawoy, 1991). Guided by the theoretical focus on domestic masculinity, we sought heterosexual middleclass suburban men represented by the mainstream manhood theory. Research

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assistants located male participants in a medium-sized city in the Midwestern United States who were at least 25 years of age, employed, and had a family, potentially with children. Such a sampling strategy allowed not only gauging domestic masculinity but also assessing the level of interest among suburban men in having a male space. This sampling ensured the collection of data on the range of experiences related to male spaces around the home. The resulting sample of 49 informants consists primarily of homeowners, thus underrepresenting the viewpoints of lower class men among whom the rate of homeownership is lower (Table 1). Our primary research method was long interviews, which are ‘‘one of the most powerful methods in the qualitative armory’’ (McCracken, 1988: 9). Long interviews offer insight into consumers’ mental worlds and the kinds of cultural constructs that shape identity construction by eliciting consumers’ accounts of their experience. Through the interviews with the study participants, we are able to obtain a ‘‘perspective of action,’’ wherein ‘‘interview informants explain their perspective of action they recall and its meaning to them’’ (Wallendorf and Arnould, 1991: 15). This methodological approach is consistent with previous research on men’s identity work (Holt and Thompson, 2004; Moisio et al., 2013). In line with McCracken’s (1988) suggestion to use an interview guide, research assistants trained by the first author (R.M.) used the same interview guide to conduct each interview. The interview guide included questions about informants’ masculine identity, relationship to home’s male spaces, their uses, and their meanings in order to maximize chances of learning how home’s spaces contributed to identity construction. In addition to the interview-guide questions, the interview process entailed posing a generic set of questions in combination with situational prompts and follow-ups. Interview lengths varied between approximately 30 and 60 minutes. All interviews were transcribed verbatim for the purpose of subsequent data analysis. To facilitate identification of discrepancies between our data and prior theory, we used prior theory to guide our computer-aided data-analysis process. During data analysis, we created a combination of ‘‘closed’’ codes related to the general categories, and more specific, inductively derived ‘‘open’’ codes that emerged during the coding process (e.g., Strauss and Corbin, 1990). This meant that while some of the codes were more closely linked to prior theory, we developed new ones inductively based on close reading of the transcripts during the data-analysis process, thereby facilitating identification of deviations from prior theorizing. During the data-analysis process, we also moved back and forth between emerging categories and data, known as the ‘‘constant comparative method,’’ to make sure the emergent data representation was fitting the data (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). Later phases in the data-analysis process also involved axial and selective coding (Strauss and Corbin, 1990) as we sought to develop a narrative for our findings. This process also included identification of negative cases that helped in determining the boundary conditions of the emergent theory.

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Age (years)

49 NA 35 39 31 51 45 49 51 36 57 61 32 35 27 58 53 30 26 26 51 58 58 33

Pseudonym

Adam Alistair Andrew Barry Ben Bill Brad Brett Calvin Carl Carlo Chad Christian Craig Dale Daniel Danny Earl Eddie Edgar Edward Elis Fernando Fraser

2 5 2 3 2 2 NA 4 2 1 2 3 2 3 1 2 3 0 0 2 3 1 2 1

Children Company President Company President Senior Management Project Coordinator Electrical Engineer Facility Manager Assembler Senior Vice President Insurance Sales President of Utility Coordinator Chief Executive Officer University Parking/Transit Dispatch Trainer Insurance-Agency Manager Sales Grocery-Store Manager Director of Agency Sales Grade-School Teacher Bar Manager Production Engineer Business Specialist Regional Vice President Landscaper President Railroad Conductor

Current job BA BA MBA BS BS BA HS PhD BA Some college BS Some college Some college BS BS BA BA BS BS BA Associate’s Some college BA AAS

Education

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(continued)

US$110,000+ US$110,000+ US$70,000–US$79,999 US$30,000–US$39,999 US$60,000–US$69,999 US$100,000–US$109,999 US$40,000–US$49,999 US$110,000+ US$90,000–US$99,999 US$30,000–US$39,999 US$110,000+ US$50,000–US$59,999 US$100,000–US$109,999 US$110,000+ US$30,000–US$39,999 US$60,000–US$69,999 NA US$20,000–US$29,999 NA US$30000–US$39999 US$110,000+ US$20,000–US$29,999 US$60,000–US$69,999 US$50,000–US$59,999

Personal income

6

Married Married Married Married Married Married Partnership Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Engaged Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married

Marital status

Table 1. Informant profiles.

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Age (years)

27 48 30 50 32 38 30 26 31 35 53 27 29 43 33 41 52 27 34 33 33 52 52 31 55

Pseudonym

Frederick Garon George Gilbert Glen Harry Jake Jay Keegan Lee Marvin Owen Ramsey Ricky Rupert Sean Seth Simon Sonny Spencer Toby Tyrone Wade Warren Will

Table 1. Continued

Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Married Divorced Married Married Married

Marital status 0 0 1 3 2 2 2 0 1 3 3 1 1 2 1 3 2 1 3 0 2 2 2 0 1

Children Sales Manager Utilities Manager Insurance Adjuster Vice President Investment Banker Athletic/Academic Consultant Claims Adjuster/Underwriter Claims Analyst Bank Teller Rehab Specialist Company President Sales Manager Retail-Store General Manager Assistant Director for Student Life Bar Manager Software Analyst Stationary Equipment Operator Management Supervisor at Gallup Stay-at-Home Dad Full-Time Student Stay-at-Home Dad Salesman Restoration Specialist Bartender Director of Project Management

Current job BS Associate’s BA MA BS MS BS HS HS HS BS BS BA MA HS BS HS BA HS Some college HS MA HS BA BS

Education NA US$70,000–US$79,999 US$40,000–US$49,999 US$100,000–US$109,999 US$60,000–US$69,999 US$60,000–US$69,999 US$40,000–US$49,999 US$30,000–39,999 US$20,000–US$29,999 US$70,000–US$79,999 US$110,000+ US$50,000–US$59,999 US$50,000–US$59,999 US$70,000–US$79,999 US$60,000–US$69,999 US$50,000–US$59,999 US$90,000–US$99,999 US$70,000–79,999 US$0–US$9999 US$10,000–US$19,999 US$10,000–US$19,999 US$50,000–US$59,999 US$30,000–US$39,999 US$20,000–US$29,999 US$90,000–US$99,999

Personal income

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Findings Home’s masculine corners: Characteristics of male spaces Our informants link their masculine identities to male spaces at home. This is accomplished by claiming the ownership of these spaces, particularly in light of provisioning, as many informants refer to their male spaces as favorite places earned through hard work. Bill, a 51-year-old facility manager, for instance, asserts, ‘‘I feel that, well, since I paid for all this, I should have a spot that’s mine.’’ As the main provider for the family, Bill lays down an unequivocal claim to a corner in the house. He considers it his right. Game rooms, dens, workshops, and garages appear to be the most commonly claimed masculine spaces. Some spaces are blocked out from the feminine areas of the home. For instance, the basement is one such area for Toby, a stay-at-home dad, who emphasizes the importance of having his own space: The kids have about 65% of it and I have, well, about 25% of it, but that’s my space. I go there every night . . . my space downstairs is kind of my own. It’s kind of boxed off from the rest of the room. That’s my space.

Masculine possessions are prime props for marking male spaces. In this regard, these possessions allow men to engage in a masculine form of nesting. For instance, Alistair, a company president, describes the chair that even family members recognize as distinctly his: I do have a big chair which Jane bought for me about 15 years or so. And somehow or other she never sits in it hardly; it’s a chair that is comfortable for me, and referred to as my chair.

Alistair’s chair is not just an ordinary, random possession mounted in his spot. It is a phallic object that evokes symbolic undertones of masculine power, akin to a ruler presiding on his throne. Such experience highlights how possessions are necessary to legitimize male spaces at home, where women’s symbolic influence persists. Indeed, masculine possessions endowed with powerful phallic symbolism gain meaning in relation to the perceived, primarily feminine ambiance of home. Owen, a 27-year-old sales manager, contrasts the feminine aura of the house with the masculinity of his own space, defined by the sports-related possessions: . . . if you were to walk through my house today you would think that it’s all my wife’s interior decorating everything . . . it’s just got very feminine tones to it . . . and so I’ve got my man room with my signed Brett Favre football and all my Packers stuff up on the wall, I’m a huge Packers fan. I love those guys . . . it’s great, I really feel like that’s my prowess, that’s my locale . . .

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Owen’s quote highlights how the prevalent feminine overtones of the house de´cor prompt the desire to construct a counter-space marked by more typical masculine nuances. For Owen, these nuances take the form of sports memorabilia plastered on the walls of his ‘‘man room,’’ which endow his space with a clearly masculine aura as well as objectify his identity within the home. Aside from paraphernalia of favorite sports teams or athletes, other objects related to men’s sporting hobbies also represent a very common type of possessions that are considered masculine. Marvin, a company president, cherishes such undisputed masculine possessions around his den: ‘‘It just is kind of a place where I can have my own stuff in my den. I have some of my own pictures out of golf trips, boy trips . . .’’ We also find that productive consumption (e.g., Moisio et al., 2013), whether it entails fixing a bookshelf or repairing a flat bike tire, contributes to the inauguration of male spaces at home. In the viewpoints of our informants, male spaces are not mere leisurely quarters but areas for productive ventures. While prior studies of men’s public spaces such as the ESPN Zone or a golf course highlight their playful character (McGinnis and Gentry, 2002; Sherry et al., 2004), our findings suggest that pursuits that combine leisure and productivity represent the means of legitimizing male spaces. They resonate as productive rather than frivolous spaces that allow men to imagine themselves as industrious agents who use their time at home to engage in productive work. Spencer, a 33-year-old full-time student, emphasizes the importance of productivity to the very definition of his basement spot: I kind of classify the basement as, I don’t want to say mine, but kind of my little area that I can tweak, put things where I want to. She [his wife] has her little Disney room upstairs and whatnot. My entertainment [is the] basement.

Although the productivity framing may have little to do with actual reality, it nevertheless validates the male spaces.

Home as men’s therapeutic enclave: Seeking refuge from work and family Refuge from work. Our informants describe their male spaces in therapeutic terms. Male spaces facilitate revitalization from the stresses associated with being working professionals. Workplaces, as revealed through the viewpoints of our informants, represent chaotic worlds and home’s male spaces emerge as a counterpoint to that. Andrew, an informant who holds a stressful senior management position, emphasizes the quality of the time spent in his male space as an after-work treat: ‘‘I deserve some time to relax when I get home . . . after working all day long it is the only reward that I give myself and I think I earned time to do what I want.’’ Informants like Andrew view the time spent in male spaces as a hedonic reward after a hard day’s work. Rewarding oneself with this treat allows men not only to release work-induced stress but also to transition to the family-man identity they perform at home.

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Male spaces also derive their meaning in men’s identity work as the venues to counteract workplace frustrations. For our achievement-oriented informants, spending time in their male spaces is like seeking refuge from paid work at the same time as they engage in something productive while at home. Glen, an investment banker, speaks to this reality: It was a form of stress relief; if I’m stressed out at work I can come home and go to my garage and just get away, much like gardening – I can get away and turn on some music and involve myself in things that can give me that sense of accomplishment . . .

Glen finds it fulfilling to disappear into his garage after the onerous day’s work and engage in simple yet meaningful activities. Glen’s experience is reflective of the idea that male spaces are transitional in nature, in line with Turner’s (1969) ‘‘betwixt and between’’ notion. Male spaces exist at the intersection of home and work, facilitating role transitions from the professional world to the domestic realm of family. The atmospheric characteristics of male spaces enhance their therapeutic potential. The ambiance of male spaces often resembles that of a sports bar or a workshop to minimize resemblance to the workplace. The physical props or the arrangement of male spaces therefore augment transportation of men to the ‘‘betwixt and between’’ zone of masculine domestic experience. Carl, a company CEO, explains how the electronic dartboard and the bar table contribute to the leisurely quality of his space: It is the most relaxing place in the house if you ask me. You walk in and there is an electronic dartboard, like the ones you see in bars and restaurants. Then, to the right is a bar I just put in recently.

Carl’s space is complete with typical relaxation amenities, including games and a beverage freezer, which render the space unlike other family spaces, and definitely unlike his workplace. In addition, the sonic dimension of male spaces also contributes to their therapeutic role. Male spaces tend to be empty of the polluting noise, mostly in the form of incessant interactional chatter that characterizes our informants’ workplaces. The quietness of the ambiance inside male spaces facilitates the valued experience of therapeutic revitalization. Our informants contend that male spaces act as a safety valve, safeguarding against negative repercussions of professional stress for personal life. Isolating themselves in male spaces helps men discharge workplace frustrations without affecting the family relationships. Withdrawal to male spaces seems to aid the informants’ smoother transition from the day’s work to familial commitments at home. This therapeutic property is apparent in Eddie’s claim that having his space enables him to cope with work-related stresses on his own, without straining the family: ‘‘I get a chance to let my frustrations settle, if I had a bad day, and not impose on my wife or family. I use the time to deal with my issues and take care of

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my personal business.’’ Eddie is a busy production engineer by day. Eddie’s experience is consistent with the idea that work may spillover to home life and undermine familial harmony. Echoing this conjecture, Eddie feels the retreat to his own space spares his family unwanted negativity trailing from the office. Refuge from family. The therapeutic role of male spaces extends to family-man identity as well. Male spaces offer a refuge from the identity pressures entailed by the informants’ roles as fathers, husbands, and members of the household. However, our informants’ stories reveal an overlooked aspect of male spaces that in public portrayals are often depicted as retrograde male hideouts. Even if male spaces may serve as hideouts on occasion, men’s relationship to these spaces is much more nuanced. Spending time within their mancaves enables our informants to more fully embrace their identities as fathers and husbands. These men do not just evade the demands of the multiple identities they enact but also seek rejuvenation of these identities. In this vein, male spaces around their homes serve the very important purpose of aiding release of marital and overall family-man identity frustrations built up over time. Brad, who works as an assembler and lives with a partner, elaborates on this therapeutic property of his basement: . . . you need your free time, it’s like sometimes . . . to be able to get away, maybe there’s a certain situation like that’s come up, I don’t like to use argument; but, you know it’s kinda like, okay, I’m just gonna go down here, get in my own little world, I need that ’til there’s no more conflict . . . Because instead of venting on the person, I can just go down there and just relax . . . So my space is very important.

Brad’s story offers a counter-narrative to the frequently publicized tale of the irresponsible male who escapes familial responsibilities as a father or a husband (Ehrenreich, 1983). Brad’s experience highlights the idea that male spaces allow men to release pent-up frustrations emanating from family schisms, akin to how work-related tensions are released. Brad’s experience is also representative of how many informants feel – namely, that isolation rather than communication is needed to weather familial and marital challenges, and male spaces afford a treasured outlet for it. Taking physical refuge is a form of emotional coping for informants like Brad, who would rather deal with relational discontent without letting it escalate to a conflict that can undermine familial harmony. Male spaces, therefore, facilitate men’s more successful integration with their families. However, male spaces do not represent an unequivocal panacea for averting emotionally charged episodes that might generate family conflicts. The time spent in male spaces also helps better integrate men with their families through the therapeutic self-reflection and discovery that take place there. In the case of our informants, some engage in a life survey of sorts – an appraisal of goals, accomplishments, and performance in their roles as fathers, husbands, and providers. In a way, male spaces facilitate important reinvention of identities, which represents an opportunity no other context outside or inside the home provides.

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George, an insurance adjuster and a married father with a young child, offers an insight into how moments of solitude in his man space help him take a functional inventory of his life and aspects of identity: It’s good for me to be able to sit back, take a look, and take inventory on how life is going, what I’m doing, making sure that I’m being the type of husband and father that I think is what my wife and child deserve in me. And I think, I think if you have an opportunity to sit back without the pressures of the world, then you get a good chance to think about what’s important to you. You know, what moves you need to make, if you need to change, or if you need to keep going on a different, or on the same path.

George engages in the review of vital relationships and roles while in his personal spot. Shrouded in the therapeutic and solitary aura of their spaces, informants like George evaluate their performance as fathers, husbands, and self-described heads of the household. Male spaces, in this perspective, allow men to reassume their identity roles with revitalized rigor. Overwhelmed at times by the conflicting expectations of the modern professional, marital, and family lives that may undermine their selves, men attempt to come to terms with these diverse identity pressures within the quiet, undisturbed enclosure of male spaces. Paradoxically, by emerging as a temporary haven from responsibilities as husbands and parents, male spaces also contribute to the revitalization of men’s potential to live up to these responsibilities.

Home and male-to-male sociality in male spaces: Camaraderie as therapy Male spaces and paternal relationships. Our informants use male spaces as venues to form relationships and bond with male family members. Spaces such as game rooms, workshops, or garages that can accommodate larger groups of people are particularly amenable to male bonding within the confines of home, sustaining male-to-male bloodline relationships. For instance, Chad, a transit dispatch officer and a married father of three children, explains the value of spending time with his sons in the male space for father–son bonding: . . . I got three sons. When they got older, that was the nice time to be with my three sons. Not all-together and maybe sometimes three all together. A lot of times one-onone. Fix their cars, build them something for, and help them with the project they had. It just was a fun time. That’s where I took as the man spot. Especially, as father and son.

Inside his spot, Chad interacts with his sons, and they all share leisurely yet productive avocations that enhance their relationships. These occasions are also crucial for instilling values and for socializing the offspring in line with the informants’ conceptions of masculinity. The male space serves as the prime venue for reproducing traditional views of masculinity and simultaneously bonding with the

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male kin. Male spaces also furnish a venue for developing father–son intimacy. Some informants struggle to establish closeness with their male offspring, either for personal reasons or because of circumstances such as separation following a divorce. Therefore, they value the playtime with their sons in the male space for bonding and transferring of socially appropriate masculine demeanor and mindset. Owen, a sales manager and a son of a firefighter, describes how playing video games and sports in his mancave forges a closer bond between himself and his son: I’m bonding with my son, I’m helping him realize how important sports are in life and having a nice television and video games, you know, he and I play Super Mario Bros . . .. I’m Luigi, he’s Mario. These are important moments in my life where I get to bond with a guy . . . On the door of that room, it kind of has one of those ‘‘Packers Fans Only’’ signs and . . . it’s actually painted green with the yellow trim, so it kind of fits that motif so, he knows when he comes to that door we’re going to have man time . . . and up until then he knows to stay out of there too, because I can only go in there with him [. . .] that’s how I’m able to bond with my son Steven, too, trying to get him into sports . . .

Owen identifies himself as an emotionally inexpressive parent. He lacks the behavioral ideals and social skills needed to interact with his son. Owen resorts to video games and sports as legitimate masculine hobbies that serve the greater purpose of developing a connection to his son. Playing the Super Mario Bros video game together in the physical space marked with masculine devotion to the Packers football team provides a template for forming a father–son team. Owen’s story highlights the potential of men’s spaces to facilitate the creation of relations that otherwise may go unattended. A male space thus emerges as socially therapeutic through the integration of men into their families, helping them bond with their offspring while reproducing some traditional masculine traits. Male spaces and fraternal relationships. In male spaces, our informants are able to engage in masculine activities with other men such as working on Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects, watching sports, playing video games, shooting pool, or conversing about a variety of topics with other men. Such moments of fraternal bonding in male spaces derive significance relative to the times when men feel overwhelmed by their family-man identities. Those informants who spend most of the day with their children value these bonding opportunities even more. Toby, a stay-at-home dad to two children, yearns for occasional male companionship and finds his male space opportune for it: ‘‘Well, just talking to other guys. I am with the kids so much, that you need the adult time.’’ Male bonding at his space is meaningful for Toby because he can have some ‘‘adult time.’’ The notion of adult time is juxtaposed to family time, which entails engagement with children and spouses that men may not always find fulfilling as individuals and as men. Bonding occasions at male spaces help fill the void of male-to-male interaction that may be missing in some informants’ lives.

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A characteristic of ‘‘adult time’’ is ‘‘guy talk,’’ conversations with other men that take place within male spaces. Eddie expresses appreciation for this element of male bonding: I value the conversations. The stories and ideas passed back and forth between a bunch of guys with vivid imaginations and engineering degrees can get good. So many of my friends have different backgrounds that we share different perspectives, but our roots give us something in common.

As Eddie contends, successful interactions are predicated on some commonality such as the engineering background, which further strengthens friendship bonds. However, more importantly, getting together at each other’s male spaces creates fraternal traditions, through which the continuity of male-to-male relationships can be assured. Congregating at male spaces helps in sustaining valued relationships. For instance, Earl explains that maintaining male friendships requires repetitive effort, which is best expended through ritualized gatherings at male spaces: Watch TV, I want to have a big-screen TV down there, a bar, I want to have a weekly or maybe a monthly poker night with my friends. When you get married and that and you move on, you kind of lose touch with everybody, and it’s a way that you can create a fun and relaxing environment that you can have your friends over and you are more likely to stay in touch with them.

Like other informants, Earl acknowledges the weakening of relationships he had prior to the marriage and family life. For our informants, marital and familial responsibilities tend to become the priority relative to male friendships, and not just temporarily. This prioritizing at times leads to the loss of previous friendships. Cultivating homosociality at men’s spaces emerges as an antidote to the weakening of male-to-male bonds. It allows men to reconnect and recreate in a jovial, playful atmosphere and engage in masculine activities, such as playing poker often accompanied by the ritualistic sharing of beer, a common prop among our informants’ masculinity-affirming get-togethers. Male bonding in male spaces derives meaning vis-a`-vis what our informants experience as the feminine code of the everyday marital life. For instance, Dale, a grocery-store manager, contrasts the camaraderie unfolding in the male space to the time he spends with his fiance´e: just the camaraderie and the different point of view that you get from . . . I spend a lot of my day with my fiance´e . . . so when I spend time with other men, it’s nice to get a different point of view . . . be a man for a little while.

Dale’s interaction mostly with his fiance´e seems to supersede being a man, at least temporarily. Such experience is common among other informants. Family life, in general, tends to inscribe informants in the broader structure of social

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relationships with extended family members, in-laws, and new acquaintances that put a check on what our informants consider truly male behavior. Within the confines of male spaces, men can safely unleash their inner, authentic man. Our informants feel that in their mancaves, they can behave in masculinity-affirming ways otherwise sanctioned in the context of the marital relationship: Just that if I’m hanging out with the guys, we can be guys. Like, I mean, I can with Michelle, to an extent. I don’t have to hold back anything like a burp or a fart or something like that around Michelle; we are comfortable enough with each other. But when I’m hanging out with the guys, it’s different; we can just be stupid guys and talk about stupid things that I can’t really talk about with Michelle. You know I can’t talk about hot chicks or boobs or stuff like that, but with guys you can be fifteen again.

Warren’s remark about freely discussing other women in the company of male buddies reflects how men’s spaces facilitate what gender theorists describe as heteronormative masculinity. While Warren feels less inhibited to release vulgar aspects of his masculinity such as ‘‘a burp or a fart’’ around his wife, he will refrain from displaying more misogynistic forms of masculinity. But within his male space, such expressions of masculinity are uninhibited or perhaps even encouraged by local norms that celebrate masculine expression. In the confines of the male space, men are free to express views and enact behaviors that are important to their masculinity but are kept under wraps when enacting the family-man identity.

The social regulation of home’s domains: The limits of male spaces Men do not always have the ability to appropriate a physical space in or around the house, nor do they always claim one. We find that the importance of male space fluctuates in conjunction with our informants’ endorsement of egalitarian ideology (Hochschild, 1989). Some informants attest to not desiring a spot of their own. For instance, Ricky, who has two children and a full-time job, explains: . . . I really don’t have that personal space, nor do I need it. What I think you’re doing there is you’re isolating yourself from your family. We have an office in our basement . . . but it’s not a defined area for just me and that’s [not] something that I’ve ever had nor do I see for me right now as a must-have.

Some informants further contend that having a separate space reads as deliberate isolation from the family. Daniel goes so far as to deem the men’s space a thing of the past: I don’t know if you remember the show All in the Family with Archie Bunker, but there was a show that was on TV. A sitcom that was on for a long time called All in the Family and there was one of the principal characters of the show was a gentleman by the name of Archie Bunker, and he had a La-Z-Boy recliner that was his space.

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He would sit in the thing and watch TV and drink beer and whatever he did, fall asleep and argue with his wife, and so it is my dream never to be like that. So, consequently, no, I don’t have a place in my house that I consider to be my place, my study, my spot, my chair. It’s all common ground.

In Daniel’s view, inhabiting a male space represents a regressive form of masculinity that is not in sync with contemporary times, claiming his own spot would liken Daniel to the Archie Bunker character, the kind of man who does not adapt to the family life. Other informants share in the belief that having one’s own spot around the house undermines the good husband ideal: ‘‘There’s no like, ‘Oh, Earl’s in his private space where he wants to be left alone.’ I don’t think that’s very good for a family and it’s definitely not good for a relationship.’’ For these informants, lack of desire to have a male space indicates rejection of stereotypical masculine ideals that may subvert family unity and marital harmony. However, such a stance may also represent an opportunistic ideological shift. It may simply reflect the intent to accommodate personal views within the limits imposed by family circumstances. The salience of the family ideal, the quest for family unity (Moisio et al., 2004), also punctuates men’s relationship to their spaces. Men sacrifice having their own spot for the sake of family needs. Ricky, for instance, is willing to forgo spending time in the male space as he finds interaction with his two children more fulfilling: . . . We have that area down in our basement where our office is, opens up into a big great room and it’s where our kids play all the time and that’s where I want to be. Any spare time I have I try to spend with my kids, not our study.

Ricky’s comment is indicative of the reality that being a father, especially to young children, contributes significantly to the shift in the informants’ attitude toward having a designated male space. If not entirely abandoning having a separate space, some men appropriate a corner at home temporally – for instance, in the evening or at night when the family goes to sleep. Others are more than willing to endow their personal spots with communal utility, as Adam, a president of an insurance company and a father of two, does: ‘‘. . . I have a den but the den is used by all of the family members since our computers are there and I don’t really have a separate space from anyone else.’’ Thus, while some informants claim not to yearn for a space and others willingly give it up in service of the family, these may well be compromises that drive men’s latent determination to eventually carve out a spot at home, a mancave of their own.

Discussion This research and its unique male perspective, developed through long interviews with the participants, offer several insights into male spaces at home, or what popular culture labels ‘‘mancaves.’’ First, we identify the key features of male

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spaces and how these spaces operate in men’s identity work. Male spaces at home represent men’s terrain, demarcated from women’s spaces. Along with spatial or symbolic demarcation, masculine possessions mark the ambience of these spaces. The final feature is productive consumption that takes place within male spaces as a means of their legitimization. Second, resonant with the notion that in popular imagination home represents a haven in an uncertain world (Shelley, 2004), male spaces emerge as therapeutic enclaves to mitigate identity pressures emanating from being professionals, breadwinners, and family men. This finding qualifies the proposition that domestic masculinity emerges primarily to furnish a legitimate domain for masculine identity work at home (Gelber, 1997). Our informants’ experiences suggest that the prior theoretical emphasis on emasculating meanings of home as a female realm may overstate its importance. Our conceptualization emphasizes the multifold therapeutic role of male spaces for domestic masculinity construction. As our findings reveal, domestic masculinity emerges at the intersection of several types of identity pressures. Male spaces at home aid men’s temporary detachment from the stresses and expectations of their workplaces, similar to what appears to happen in the context of DIY home improvement (Moisio et al., 2013). Due to their atmospheric and sonic qualities that augment temporary solitude, male spaces help discharge identity pressures tied to the workplace and guard against their negative spillover into the family. Male spaces also ward off pressures indigent to the marital life, but rather than merely facilitating escape, male spaces contribute to men’s contemplation upon how to better perform their roles as fathers and husbands. In addition, male spaces emerge as venues of male-to-male bonding. This finding contrasts with the view that public places of shared leisure forge male-to-male connections (Schouten and McAlexander, 1995). Male spaces at home cultivate paternal relationships with male offspring and build fraternity with other men, while operating as venues for acting out masculine codes of conduct incompatible with the family-man identity. Finally, male spaces reflect men’s endorsement of egalitarian ideology and the family ideal, regulating their creation, use, and boundaries (Figure 1). Our findings offer several theoretical contributions. One contribution of this research is to advance a broader understanding of home as a consumer project. From the past research on home, we may distinguish two orienting research streams. One research stream has centered on the idea of home as a possession that reflects an extension of an identity (Belk, 1988). Another orienting research stream posits home as a process of homemaking, wherein emphasis rests on how home is constructed through consumption processes (e.g. Arsel and Bean, 2013; Saatcioglu and Ozanne, 2013). Absent in these research streams is the recognition of home as a man’s space. Men, not just women, make their identities at home, a reality not heeded by existing research. Our work elucidates homemaking as a gendered process of identity construction whereby appropriation and use of domestic spaces play a role in the creation of home. Home, therefore, should perhaps be treated as a conglomerate of spatial domains that are constructed through

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Figure 1. Extended model of domestic masculinity.

consumer choices and practices, such as those of our informants, who focus on the use of the corners around the house in the service of enacting multilayered masculine identities. Our findings also inform theorizing on masculinity and consumption (e.g., Holt and Thompson, 2004; Schouten and McAlexander, 1995). Studies of men’s identity work in public spaces already demonstrate that consumption cultivates masculinity (Fischer et al., 1998; Sherry et al., 2004). However, such research tends to re-invoke the hegemonic masculinity model as an exclusionary practice and overlook any potential relational motives that could elucidate alternative ways of constructing masculinity (Connell and Messerschmidt, 2005). For instance, the model of masculinity construction by Holt and Thompson (2004), while illuminating masculinity as a feat of man-of-action heroism, glosses over the relationship between masculinity and domesticity. Our findings, in contrast, reveal that men’s identity work at home emerges in conjunction with their need to sustain connections to domesticity and family as well as revitalization of men’s potential in the capacity of fathers and husbands. In light of this reality, male spaces and men’s consumption-aided identity work at home are inherently auto-therapeutic (e.g., Moisio and Beruchashvili, 2010). Home’s male spaces are not mere enactments of pre-existing identities, but rather platforms for reinventing who men are at home.

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In conclusion, our study suggests that mancaves play a pivotal yet a more complex role in men’s identity work at home than previously thought. Mancaves are not just the retrograde expressions of masculine ethos premised on escaping the influence of the female and feminine domesticity. Rather, mancaves emerge as therapeutic, integrative spaces. They operate as venues for weaving together the multiple aspects of men’s identities at times overwhelmed by professional and familial obligations. Mancaves afford men a place for reinventing themselves as more fully functioning males integrated within the home, family, and the fraternity of other men. In light of the current findings, further understanding of how women and children play into the domestic masculinity construction is warranted. Additionally, examining the principle of territoriality and the distribution of the house’s other spaces can further elucidate how contemporary men construe their masculinity at home.

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Author Biographies Risto Moisio is Associate Professor of Marketing at College of Business Administration, California State University, Long Beach, USA. His research examines gender identity, consumer well-being, and pro-social behavior. Mariam Beruchashvili is Associate Professor of Marketing at David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, California State University, Northridge, USA. Her research focuses on social construction of emotion, overweight identity, and consumer goals.

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