Chapter 14: The garage as vernacular museum: Reading contemporary masculinity through ‘man caves’
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Contemporary masculinity is constructed, performed and maintained through all kinds of symbolic practices and rituals. One recent kind of symbolic practice or expression is ‘man caves’ or ‘man spaces’, a certain kind of domestic space dedicated to and inhabited by primarily heterosexual men in spousal relationships: converted garages, basements, sheds, spare rooms and so forth. These spaces usually involve the storage of favourite objects, including cars and car parts, motorcycles, tools, collectibles and memorabilia, musical and gym equipment, televisions, home theatres, alcohol paraphernalia, weapons, books, games and so forth. Man caves function for building, repairing and maintaining ‘stuff’, as entertainment centres, as ‘toys’, as an escape into solitude or, conversely, as a place to entertain friends, a place to express oneself in another way or a place to let one’s imagination run free. They are a key site for reading the performance of contemporary, urban masculinity. Within the confines of the domestic sphere, man caves promise control over a space, its décor and the socialisation therein. Keywords: masculinity, home, man caves, vernacular museums, material culture

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