“This is the guys’ home ground, you know”: A qualitative study about masculinity, homosociality and work identity among male and female dockworkers in the Port of Gothenburg
Harbour work in the port of Gothenburg has historically been a male-dominated working-class profession where dockworker identity has been strongly connected to working-class masculinity. Harbour environments are often characterized by homosocial cultures, where bonding between men is confirmed through male, heterosexual, working-class norms. Over the last decades of strikes and conflicts, harbour work in Gothenburg has become a well-paid and attractive job. But although some women have entered the profession, most recent recruits are men from higher educational and economic backgrounds. The objective of this thesis is to investigate how gender relations, work identity and the homosocial environment in the port of Gothenburg are created, reproduced and challenged when women and new groups of men enter the workforce. The study is based on semi-structured interviews with male and female dockworkers. It explores how masculinity in the port of Gothenburg is constructed and how the homosocial environment is reproduced and challenged. It also discusses how female dockworkers create work identity in a masculine-coded profession. The findings show that the hegemonic working-class masculinity and the homosocial culture in the port of Gothenburg are resistant, but that these structures in some ways are challenged by the increased influence of neoliberal middle-class masculinity. Moreover, it is difficult for female dockworkers to create work identity due to the gender coding of working-tasks in the harbour. However, their position as “different” is a source of positive identification. This study shows how power structures created by the globalization of gender influence gender regimes in local contexts.