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An ethnographic study of sources of conflict between young men in the context of the night out

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This paper describes an ethnographic study of male values and interpersonal conflict in the context of evening social events in the North of England. The study involved participant observations, assisted by discussions with 'guides', and interviews with participants. It became apparent that the understanding of conflict required appreciation of the social context, 'the night out'. Important themes that are described include the following: the perceived aim of the night out ('to have a laff') and different ways this was achieved; the appraisal of other men; provoking situations; the sequence leading up to aggressive verbal exchanges and to fights; the role of alcohol; the importance of physical aggression in gaining status; the importance attached to responding to a challenge or insult by men and women; age differences; and 'banter' and story-telling among all-male groups. The findings are discussed in relation to previous ethnographic observations of physical aggression between men in bars, and are interpreted within the framework of evolutionary psychology.
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Keywords: ALCOHOL; CONFLICT; ETHNOGRAPHY; MASCULINITY; SEX DIFFERENCES; STATUS; VIOLENCE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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