Boys don't cry? Critical phenomenology, self-harm, and suicide

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In this paper I argue that critical phenomenology, informed by critical race and intersectional scholarship offers a useful lens through which to consider suicide and self-harm among men. To illustrate this, I draw on a narrative informed analysis of the accounts of ten men who had experienced self-harm, read through Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology. Two themes are emphasised: gendered, raced, classed bodies that are (unexpectedly) stopped; and bodies that, despite being stopped, still ‘do’ – enacting violence and control against self and other. Critical phenomenology can support much needed examination of the complex ways in which socioeconomic class, race, gender and age structure experiences of distress among different social groups. This approach enables a simultaneous examination of the way that privilege and oppression may shape both the experience of distress, and the way it is responded to – including through violence against the self, and against others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1350-1366
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number6
Early online date17 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • suicide
  • qualitative
  • self-harm
  • gender
  • race


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