Navigating the Tensions of Normative Masculinity: Homosocial Dynamics in Australian Young Men’s Discussions of Sexting Practices

Steven Roberts, Signe Ravn, Marcus Maloney, Brittany Ralph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Building on research identifying sexting as an important aspect of contemporary youth cultures, this article critically explores the ways that homosocial bonding is bound up with, and produced in the context of, young adult men’s discussions of sexting. Drawing on a focus-group study with 37 undergraduate young men based in Melbourne, Australia, we find both deviations from and continuations with the literature that has emphasised men’s homosocial bonding as being predicated on women’s sexualisation and subordination. Discussions of sexting prove to be a site where young men navigate being ‘lads’ prioritising homosocial relations over relations with female partners and objectifying women to demonstrate masculine status, while simultaneously wanting to be respectful men who call out bad behaviour and emphasise trust and mutuality in their relations with women. We make sense of this by drawing on the concepts of ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ homosociality, and by attending to the symbolic boundary work that the young men undertake. In our concluding discussion, we consider the potentially productive, disciplinary role of – and limits to – digital technologies in regulating the production and performance of young masculinities that still rely on the articulation of hierarchies that legitimate gender inequality, even when young men espouse progressive views.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalCultural Sociology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Jun 2020


  • digital culture
  • Homosocial bonding
  • masculinity
  • sexting
  • sexual cultures
  • social change
  • youth culture

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