Journal Article

Breaking Walls, Raising Fences: Masculinity, Intimacy, and Accountability among the Promise Keepers

John P. Bartkowski

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 61, issue 1, pages 33-53
Published in print January 2000 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2000 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712089
Breaking Walls, Raising Fences: Masculinity, Intimacy, and Accountability among the Promise Keepers

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The Promise Keepers' desire to rejuvenate “godly manhood” has stimulated debate about this evangelical men's movement. This study addresses two key questions: (1) What do Promise Keeper luminaries understand to be godly manhood? (2) What is the impact of elite PK definitions of godly manhood on the gender identities and practices of this group's members? I begin by briefly sketching the contours of two competing gender discourses — instrumentalist versus expressive masculinity — advanced by Promise Keeper leaders. I then examine the ways in which these divergent discourses of masculinity are reproduced, negotiated, and creatively reformulated through accountability groups frequented by PK members in a Texas metropolitan area. I reveal how social interaction and identity negotiation within these settings meld together contradictory gender practices, thereby producing a godly masculinity that is marked by both expressive and instrumental characteristics. My investigation concludes by addressing the implications of these findings, and by specifying directions for future research on the Promise Keepers.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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