Raewyn Connell

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Raewyn Connell
Born (1944-01-03) 3 January 1944 (age 78)
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne (B.A (Hons.))
University of Sydney (PhD)
OccupationSociologist, professor, University Chair (University of Sydney)
Known forResearch on hegemonic masculinity, men's studies, southern theory, Social Class
RelativesPatricia Margaret Selkirk (sister)
AwardsJessie Bernard Award

Raewyn Connell (born 3 January 1944), usually cited as R. W. Connell, is an Australian sociologist. She gained prominence as an intellectual of the Australian New Left.[1] She was appointed University Professor at the University of Sydney in 2004, and retired from her University Chair on July, 2014.[2] She has been Professor Emerita at the University of Sydney since her retirement. She is known for the concept of hegemonic masculinity and her book, Southern Theory.

Life and career[edit]

Connell was born in Sydney, Australia. Her father, William Fraser (Bill) Connell (OBE), was a Professor of Education at the University of Sydney for many years, where she focused on educational research and teaching. Her mother, Margaret Lloyd Connell (née Peck) was a high school science teacher. Connell has two sisters, Patricia Margaret Selkirk and Helen Connell.[3][4][5][6]

Connell was educated at Manly and North Sydney High Schools, and has degrees from the University of Melbourne and University of Sydney. She has held academic positions at universities in Australia, including being the founding professor of sociology at Macquarie University 1976–1991.

In the United States Connell was visiting professor of Australian studies at Harvard University 1991–1992, and professor of sociology at University of California Santa Cruz 1992–1995.[7] She was a rank-and-file member of the Australian Labor Party until the early 1980s and a trade unionist, currently in the National Tertiary Education Union.

Connell's sociology emphasises the historical nature of social reality and the transformative character of social practice. Her writing tries to combine empirical detail, structural analysis, critique, and relevance to practice. Much of her empirical work uses biographical (life-history) interviewing in education, family life and workplaces. She has written or co-written twenty-one books and more than 150 research papers.[8] Her work has been translated into over 15 languages.[2][9]

Connell serves on the editorial board or advisory board of numerous academic journals, including Signs, Sexualities, The British Journal of Sociology, Theory and Society, and The International Journal of Inclusive Education.[10][11]

Connell is a trans woman, who formally began transitioning late in life.[12] Almost all her earlier work was published under the gender-neutral name "R. W. Connell" up to the second edition of "Masculinities" in 2005. Since 2006 all her work has appeared under the name Raewyn Connell. Connell has also written about transsexualism.[13]

Major contributions[edit]

Class and education[edit]

Connell first became known for research on large-scale class dynamics ("Ruling Class, Ruling Culture", 1977 and "Class Structure in Australian History", 1980), and the ways class and gender hierarchies are re-made in the everyday life of schools ("Making the Difference", 1982).


In the late 1980s she developed a social theory of gender relations ("Gender and Power", 1987), which emphasized that gender is a large-scale social structure not just a matter of personal identity. In applied fields she has worked on poverty and education ("Schools and Social Justice", 1993), sexuality and AIDS prevention, and labour movement strategy ("Socialism & Labor", 1978).


Connell is best known outside Australia for studies of the social construction of masculinity. She was one of the founders of this research field,[14] and her book "Masculinities" (1995, 2005) is the most-cited in the field. The concept of hegemonic masculinity has been particularly influential and has attracted much debate.[15] She has been an advisor to UNESCO and UNO initiatives relating men, boys and masculinities to gender equality and peacemaking.

Southern theory[edit]

Connell has developed a sociology of intellectuals that emphasizes the collective character of intellectual labour, and the importance of its social context. Her 2007 book Southern Theory extended this to the global dynamics of knowledge production, critiquing the "Northern" bias of mainstream social science which is predominately produced in "metropolitan[16]" universities. In doing so, she argues, metropolitan social theory fails to adequately explain social phenomena in the Southern experience.

She analyzed examples of theoretical work deriving from the global South: including the work of Paulin Hountondji, Ali Shariati, Veena Das, Ashis Nandy and Raúl Prebisch.

Connell has also explored the implications of Southern Theory on gender theory,[17][18] neoliberalism,[19] and other global knowledge projects. She continues to argue in these contexts that historical power differentiations are maintained through imperialistic privileging of thought and that decolonizing this construction of knowledge can revolutionize societies across the globe. In her essay in Planning Theory for example, Connell calls for social science to accept subaltern views that have traditionally been ignored so that modern resources can be maximized in various fields such as urban planning, geography, and youth studies.[20]


In an essay titled "Under Southern Skies", Connell responded to four other scholars of sociology, namely Mustafa Emirbayer, Patricia Hill Collins, Raka Ray, and Isaac Ariail Reed, who had all written critically about her work on Southern Theory. While acknowledging how Connell's work has sparked important discussion, the arguments of these sociologists included Ray claiming that Southern Theory marks a tipping point for postcolonial sociology rather than global sociology, Reed finding Connell's theoretical concepts to be underdeveloped, Emirbayer's view that Connell tends to overgeneralize "Northern Theory" while making unfound claims about "Southern Theory", and Collins' identification of two issues: the centering of the North and the silencing of much of the Global South by only examining the theories of Southern educated elite. In her response, Connell responds to certain points from each argument to stand by her work, countering their criticism by explaining the decisions behind her writing and affirming that her work is a jumping-off point for further discussion.[21]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Year Title Publisher
1967 Politics of the Extreme Right : Warringah, 1966  (Co-written with Florence Gould) Sydney University Press
1977 Ruling Class, Ruling Culture: Studies of Conflict, Power and Hegemony in Australian Life Cambridge University Press
1980 Class Structure in Australian History   (Co-written with Terry Irving)[22] Longman Cheshire
1982 Making the Difference: Schools, Families and Social Division   (Co-written) Allen & Unwin
1983 Which way is up? Essays on sex, class and culture Allen & Unwin
1987 Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics Allen & Unwin
1995 Masculinities Allen & Unwin
2000 The Men and the Boys Allen & Unwin
2000 Male Roles, Masculinities and Violence: A Culture of Peace Perspective   (Co-edited) UNESCO Publishing
2007 Southern theory: the global dynamics of knowledge in social science Polity
2009 Gender: in world perspective Polity
2019 The Good University: what Universities actually do and why its time for radical change Zed Books


  1. ^ Williams-Brooks, Llewellyn (2016). "Radical Theories of Capitalism in Australia: Towards a Historiography of the Australian New Left", Honours Thesis, University of Sydney, viewed 20 April 2017, https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/16655
  2. ^ a b Her Bio in her official personal website. http://www.raewynconnell.net/p/about-raewyn_20.html
  3. ^ "Connell, Raewyn (1944 - )". Australian Women's Archives Project 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Honorary awards - Emeritus Professor William Fraser Connell OBE". University of Sydney. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  5. ^ "William Fraser Connell" (PDF). Cunningham Library - Australian Council for Educational Research. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  6. ^ "William Fraser Connell papers, 1891-2010". State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  7. ^ "About Raewyn". raewynconnell.net. Retrieved on 30 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Research publications (complete list)." raewynconnell.net. Retrieved on 30 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Raewyn in translation" raewynconnell.net. Retrieved on 30 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Masthead". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Professor Raewyn Connell, Academic Staff Profile". The University of Sydney. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  12. ^ "About Raewyn" www.raewynconnell.net. Retrieved on 30 November 2012.
  13. ^ Connell, Raewyn. 2012. "Transsexual women and feminist thought: toward new understanding and new politics" Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 37 no. 4, 857–881; Connell, R. (2010), "Two cans of paint: A transsexual life story, with reflections on gender change and history" Archived 29 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Sexualities, 13(1): 3–19.
  14. ^ "Faculty of Education and Social Work – Professor Raewyn Connell" Archived 2 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. University of Sydney. Retrieved on 2 March 2012.
  15. ^ Connell, R. W.; Messerschmidt, James W. (December 2005). "Hegemonic Masculinity". Gender & Society. 19 (6): 829–859. doi:10.1177/0891243205278639. ISSN 0891-2432. S2CID 5804166.
  16. ^ Connell, Raewyn (2010). "Periphery and Metropole in the History of Sociology". Sociologisk Forskning. 47 (1): 72–86. doi:10.37062/sf.47.18449. JSTOR 20853698. S2CID 145270318.
  17. ^ Banerjee P., Connell R. (2018) Gender Theory as Southern Theory. In: Risman B., Froyum C., Scarborough W. (eds) Handbook of the Sociology of Gender. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76333-0_4
  18. ^ "Roses from the South- Re-Thinking Gender Analysis from a World Perspective" Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  19. ^ "Research Project- Market Society on a World Scale" raewynconnell.net. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  20. ^ Connell, Raewyn (2013-09-02). "Using southern theory: Decolonizing social thought in theory, research and application". Planning Theory. 13 (2): 210–223. doi:10.1177/1473095213499216. ISSN 1473-0952.
  21. ^ Decentering social theory. Julian Go (First ed.). Bingley, UK. 2013. ISBN 978-1-78190-727-6. OCLC 855895055.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  22. ^ R. W. Connell and T. H. Irving, Class structure in Australian history, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1980.

External links[edit]

External video
Interview with Professor Raewyn Connell
video icon Gender Justice Information by Engaging Men via YouTube